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Northern Ireland considering culling badgers
£4 million research programme to be commissioned

Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill has responded to recent criticism from the Ulster Farmer's Union (UFU) of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (DARD) policy on badger culling as a means of countering the spread of bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) by confirming that controlling the disease is a 'key priority'.

Ms O'Neill stated that “We are investing around £4million to commission a programme of TB and wildlife research and studies towards the ultimate aim of eradicating TB in cattle. We will use the evidence produced by this programme to inform a comprehensive approach that deals with all aspects of TB and will help to reduce the level of disease in cattle.”

“We already have a rigorous EU Commission approved eradication programme in place. We also need to build a sound evidence base to underpin further interventions in cattle and/or wildlife that could help to reduce TB as part of our eradication programme.” the Minister added.

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Pirbright student wins top award

News Story 1
 A student studying for his PhD at the Pirbright Institute has been honoured for his research on egg anti-viral proteins which could lead to a major step forward in vaccine production rates.

Tom Whitehead was named Young Innovator of the Year at the Guildford Innovation Awards on Wednesday (22nd February).

Working with scientists at The Pirbright Institute, Tom identified the family of antiviral proteins which generate the embryo's anti-viral immune response. His research demonstrated that restricting the activity of these proteins enables the levels of virus to increase.  

News Shorts
Collaboration to improve animal disaster preparedness in California

Animal rescue specialist Jim Green has joined the University of California Davis's Centre for Equine Health, for a one-year collaboration to support major advances in disaster preparedness. Recent weather conditions in California have led to declarations of emergencies in 50 out of 58 counties and there is growing concern about pets and livestock safety in light of increased wildfires and floods.

Disaster plans are in place for human and property safety but UC Davis says there is a critical lack of funding and standardisation for animal disaster planning. Mr Green has created and implemented programmes for the UK Fire and Rescue Service, to educate and integrate first responders and vets. He will coordinate with the university and local and state emergency response stakeholders in California.