Government scientists have discovered bovine TB in Britain’s wild boar population for the first time.
Defra researchers made the worrying find after testing a wild boar which died near Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire.
Tissue analysis confirmed lesions on the body had been caused by tuberculosis – the first ever case in a British wild boar.
The news has sparked panic amongst farmers, whose animals are now at risk of contracting the deadly disease from badgers, boar, sheep and other cattle.
Farmers Bill and Sue Osborne, from Lydney, Glos., say they feel ”great concern” that their herd of purebred pedigree Dexters may catch bovine TB from boar.
Bill said: ”I can’t say I’m surprised but it does worry me a great deal. We know there are boar all around our farm and now we’re being told they can spread TB.
”If we lose our herd we’ll be paid the commercial rate rather than the pedigree rate so we’ll lose out.
”But irrespective of what we get paid, our main concern is the loss of irreplaceable cattle.
”So far we’ve not been bothered by badgers but the fact that we’re at risk from the boar is of great concern because we know they’re all around our farm.”
Bovine TB has previously been found twice in captive boar but this is the first time it has been discovered in Britain’s 1,000-strong wild boar population.
The Defra report, which was released last week, also reveals that there were 140 TB cases recorded in species other than cattle last year.
This includes 68 alpacas, 26 cats, 23 pigs and five sheep.
The report concludes: ”The wild boar population in England is relatively small and localised and so they are not currently considered a major disease threat to cattle.”
However, Forest of Dean local Mick Holder said: ”TB is everywhere. There is real concern about the boar carrying TB.”