Leading vets call for ‘TB positive’ alpaca to be spared

Leading vets call for ‘TB positive’ alpaca to be spared

A number of a leading vets have urged the government to spare Geronimo the alpaca and instead study him to see what they might learn

A total of 13 vets, among them a former senior government official, said they had “grave reservations” about two positive TB tests he gave in 2017.

A destruction warrant for Geronimo is valid until 4 September.

Environment secretary George Eustice, below, who called the culling order an “arduous but necessary endeavour” has now been urged to overturn that decision.

Vets who signed the letter include Prof Ranald Munroe, the former head of pathology for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) Veterinary Laboratories Agency.

It read: “We could learn a great deal from Geronimo were he to be compassionately studied, but very little from his death,” they state.

“We believe Geronimo’s case shines a light on the shortcomings of the current bTB testing policy, and gives an opportunity for a comprehensive review of the bovine TB testing and control policy, based on science and for the health and wellbeing of farmers, cattle, alpacas, badgers, the environment and the public.”

Geronimo’s owner, Helen Macdonald, said his positive tuberculosis test was due to being repeatedly primed with tuberculin, a purified protein derivative of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) bacteria.

The veterinary nurse from ickwar, near Bristol, added that she hoped the government would “take notice” of the “quite significant” letter.

A High Court judge has refused an application for a temporary injunction to stop the destruction order and reopen the case.

A Defra spokesman said: “We are sympathetic to Ms Macdonald’s situation – just as we are with everyone with animals affected by this terrible disease.

“While nobody wants to cull animals, we need to do everything we can tackle this disease to stop it spreading and to protect the livelihoods of those affected.”

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