bTB positive Alpaca’s fate looks sealed despite petition to save its life
A petition to save the life of a six-year-old alpaca who has twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis has gathered more than 100,000 signatures.
Owner Helen Macdonald, a veterinary nurse who runs an alpaca farm in Gloucestershire, first brought Geronimo to the UK from New Zealand four years ago, when he tested positive on arrival. Since then, she says she has spent £80,000 exhausting legal avenues trying to save him.
He wrote that culling animals for bTB was an “arduous but necessary endeavour” and that Geronimo’s positive testsare a “very strong indicator of the presence of the disease”.
Vets have also said being an alpaca does not give Geronimo an exemption from rules that apply to all animals.
Sarah Tomlinson, a farm vet and bTB expert who sits on Defra’s Bovine TB Partnership, told the Guardian, that despite efforts of campaigners, including a march from Defra HQ to Downing Street, Eustice’s comments had made it clear the writing is already on the wall for Geronimo.
“Politically, this is going to happen. There is nothing that will change that,” she said.
‘Rules to protect the public’
She added: “Ultimately it is a notifiable disease, and we have quite specific laws around notifiable diseases because they have either impacts on animal health and welfare, impacts on international trade – so if we have it we can’t trade – and also for public health reasons.”
“I have sat in farmers’ kitchens in tears with families, because cows are going [to be culled]. I can’t say every one is as loved as this alpaca, but for whatever reason, some are more special than others.
“I have total sympathy with her emotion, because it is sad, anybody that’s lost any animal or human that they are close to, that’s real. But actually, as hard as it is, we do have rules to protect the public to protect other animals to stop it spreading to them and to protect our industry.”
Dominic Dyer, from the Born Free Foundation, said: “Defra has known for many years that the TB skin test could be leading to false positive TB results in alpacas.
“However rather than allow Geronimo to be tested for TB using a more accurate Actiphage PCR blood test, Defra Secretary George Eustice continues to order his death to avoid greater scrutiny over the many failures in the Governments bovine TB control policy in cattle, alpacas and badgers.”
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