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Northern Ireland considering culling badgers
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£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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Avian flu confirmed in Washington

The US Department of Agriculture's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service has confirmed the presence of avian influenza in wild birds in Whatcom Country, Washington.

Two separate virus strains were identified: HPAI H5NZ in northern pintail ducks and HPAI H5N8 in captive Gyrfalcons that were fed-hunter-killed wild birds.

The US Department of Agriculture say that neither virus has been found anywhere in the US and no human cases with these viruses have been detected. There is no immediate public health concern with either of these avian flu viruses.