Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Printable version E-mail this to a friend

Wild Deer and Bovine TB

Wild Deer and Bovine TB

DEPARTMENT FOR ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS News Release (News Release ref :375/08) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 26 November 2008

Defra will publish two reports today that build on the evidence base on bovine TB in deer.

The first is the final report from the South West England and Cotswolds Survey of Tuberculosis in Deer, the second is a related quantitative risk assessment of the risk posed to cattle by wild deer.

The results of the deer survey show that on Forestry Commission land in the South West Peninsula, bovine TB is present at a very low level (less than 1 per cent, except in one area where it is present at 3.8 per cent in fallow deer). In the Cotswolds, high prevalences were found in two of the three areas sampled (15.9 per cent and 8.1 per cent) particularly in fallow deer. In all areas surveyed, fallow deer were the species most likely to have the highest level of infection with M. bovis.

The key results of the second report, the quantitative risk assessment, indicate that deer are likely to pose a lower TB risk to cattle than badgers throughout most of South West England and Wales.

While TB is not currently a significant risk in wild deer, deer stalkers and managers should take the disease risk into account when establishing any management programmes. Defra will be working with the Deer Initiative to share this information with the industry and to help inform future plans.

Both reports can be found at:

Notes to Editors

1. Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) has been identified in five of the six species of deer present in Great Britain, with variable frequency depending on the species and geographical area, although the prevalence of bTB in the national deer herd (farmed, wild and park) is thought to be low.

2. Quantitative Risk Assessments commissioned by Defra demonstrate that the risk of cattle infection from deer is only likely to be significant if the prevalence of TB infection in deer is high. The indication from research carried out by the Central Science Laboratory (2005) is that the prevalence of TB infection in deer is not high and is estimated to be less than 5% and that the ecology of wild deer makes it unlikely that they would have any close direct contact with cattle.

More detailed information about this research can be found on Defra's website at:

Public enquiries 08459 335577;

Press notices are available on our website

Defra's aim is sustainable development


Nobel House
17 Smith Square
London SW1P 3JR

Get more out of life! Join CSSC for only £4.95pm!