OSPRI TBfree Wildlife Surveys
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OSPRI TBfree Wildlife Surveys

March 7, 2020


Wild pigs and ferrets play an important role in eradicating TB. They show whether TB disease is present in an area’s wildlife, or if it has been cleared by TBfree possum control. New Zealand’s TBfree programme is eradicating bovine tuberculosis from our cattle and deer herds, and from the wildlife that passes it on. That’s crucial to ensuring our farmed animals are healthy, and the meat and milk we export are safe. To eradicate TB from the possums that transmit disease to livestock, a survey of wild animals can reveal the TB-infection status of an area of land. Pigs and ferrets are terrific scavengers and happily eat the carcasses of TB-infected possums. So examining those wild animals can show where TB is or isn’t. OSPRI contractors capture wild pigs or ferrets in areas being surveyed. Samples from the animals are sent to a lab and checked for disease. GPS data about where wildlife was captured forms a picture of TB infection in an area, so a plan can be built to eradicate it. Tracking disease using wild pigs and ferrets is up to 50 times more efficient than surveying possums. Different regions require different survey
methods to target the most appropriate wildlife … pig or ferret. Animals are treated humanely and ethically,
as required by law. Ground based research involves contractors collecting animals through trapping and shooting Helicopters get contractors into harder to access areas where pigs can collected for examination Before any survey can take place a range of
permissions need to be granted. Wildlife surveys are the most efficient method
of tracking TB in wildlife. The surveys are critical to the TBfree programme’s
goals of achieving freedom from disease in livestock and wildlife, and ultimately eradicating bovine tuberculosis from New Zealand. Find out more about wildlife research at ospri.co.nz

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