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Gildernew condemns theft of diseased cattle

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has condemned the theft of TB reactor cattle during a routine collection in the Co Armagh area on Monday 5 October.

Seventeen TB reactor animals were taken from a field at Crossnenagh Road Keady at around 1pm on Monday 5 October. A further 16 TB reactor animals were also taken from a vehicle parked at Castleblaney Road at around the same time.

Voicing her concerns, the Minister said: “TB reactor cattle pose a significant risk of TB infection to any livestock with which they come into contact. Thirty three cattle have been stolen and a number of them are from farms where they are also under brucellosis restriction. The theft of these cattle is an act of total irresponsibility and puts our local industry at risk once again.

“Stealing disease infected animals is a low action and totally undermines the good work being done between DARD and the industry, to control and eradicate major animal diseases. It highlights how the actions of a few irresponsible individuals add to difficulty in reducing disease levels, and place a heavier burden on the taxpayer by increasing the costs of disease eradication.”

In conclusion the Minister added: “My officials have informed the authorities in the south regarding the circumstances of the theft and DARD portal offices have been notified. We are working closely with the PSNI to ensure that this incident is investigated thoroughly and consideration is being given as to how to avoid a recurrence of such behaviour.”

The risk to human health from these animals is negligible.

Notes to Editors:

1. The Department has the power to remove potentially diseased animals under the TB Control Order (NI) 1999 (as amended) and the Brucellosis Control Order (NI) 2004.

2. In 2008/2009 DARD spent approximately £34.8million on its Tuberculosis and Brucellosis eradication schemes. Included in that spend was approximately £15million in compensation payments made to herdkeepers.

3. TB and Brucellosis are infectious diseases which can spread by contact with infected animals.

4. The animals in question had reacted positively to a TB test carried out under the above legislation and were to be transported for slaughter and further examination.

5. All media enquiries should be directed to the DARD Press Office on 028 9052 4619. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.