16 Feb 2010

Animal Health Board warning over TB infection

1:44 pm on 16 February 2010

The Animal Health Board says landowners in the Manawatu-Wanganui region could face rising levels of bovine tuberculosis infection if the regional council decides to discontinue its funding for the possum control programme.

Possums play a major part in spreading tuberculosis in cattle and deer herds.

The Animal Health Board is the national agency responsible for controlling the disease. Regional funding provides 10% of its budget for the possum control strategy.

Chief executive William McCook says the regional council, Horizons, is reconsidering whether to provide its $800,000 contribution for possum control operations after earlier leaving it out of their long-term funding plans.

Mr McCook says the region used to have a huge tuberculosis herd infection problem but that has been vastly improved over the past decade thanks partly to efforts to reduce possum numbers.

He says an independent survey carried out on behalf of the Animal Health Board before Christmas showed almost all the 300 farmers questioned supported the TB management programme.

Horizons' planning and regulatory manager Greg Carlyon says he doesn't think the council is looking at any drastic changes to the way it funds possum control in the region.

He says while the council will change the way it funds pest management across the region, the possum budget should stay the same.