New research confirming the link between Sika deer and the spread of bovine TB must inform the TB eradication strategy going forward, Irish Cattle & Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) animal health and welfare chair Hugh Farrell has said.

The research states that there is evidence that higher levels of TB in cattle are associated with higher local densities of Sika deer.

“It is clear now that any push to eradicate TB must include a strategy to control wild deer populations in order to control the spread of TB,” Farrell said.


The ICSA said that while farmers had long suspected deer were a contributing factor to the spread of TB, there had been significant reluctance on the part of the Department of Agriculture to tackle the issue.

Farrell continued: “The Department have been far too slow in responding to farmers’ concerns and doing the necessary research.

“The authors of this report state that their findings add weight to the argument that Sika deer are acting as maintenance hosts of TB, and this is something that cannot be ignored.

“The problem is only going to get worse as wild deer populations continue to grow exponentially and a half-hearted approach to tackling the issue will no longer suffice.”