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Deer threatened by spread of TB

28 June 2004 - BBC News

Deer in Gloucestershire and on Exmoor could be under threat from tuberculosis spread by badgers and cattle.

The warning has come from government vets who say the number of undetected cases in the animals could be higher than previously thought.

Some farmers want a cull of badgers but the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says there is not enough evidence to back the move. It is carrying out surveys to trace the cause of the disease.

The trials are being held in rural areas across the West of England, including Gloucestershire and the Somerset/Devon borders.

They started in 1999, but were delayed by the foot-and-mouth outbreak in 2001. The trials are due to finish next year and the results are expected to be published in 2006. "There are reservoirs (of TB) out there," a Defra spokeswoman said. "But we are waiting for science to tell us where there are and how we sort them out."

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