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Potential reduction in TB incidence by using fences to prevent spatial mixing of cattle and wildlife

J. A. Barasona, K. C. VerCauteren, N. Saklou, C. Gortazar, J. Vicente

PREVIOUS studies have suggested that bovine tuberculosis (TB) can be transmitted from certain species of wild ungulate to domestic cattle, and that transmission is especially likely if cattle and TB-carrying wildlife share a watering hole. This Spanish study aimed to assess the efficacy of livestock- and wildlife-proof fences, as well as a novel cattle-operated gate, to prevent spatial mixing of wildlife and cattle.

The study was carried out in an area with a high density of Mycobacterium bovis-carrying wild ungulates (deer and wild boar), as well as domestic cattle. The six watering points (WPs) in the area were divided equally into ‘cattle-only’ and ‘wildlife-only’. Cattle-only WPs were surrounded by a wildlife-proof fence and fitted with a novel cattle-specific gate. The gate had an ‘arm’ on either side which, when pushed against, released a lock-pin that allowed the gate to swing open and the cattle to enter, before automatically swinging closed. The wildlife-only WPs were surrounded by a fence that cattle could not traverse but deer and wild boar could.

In the first phase of the study, WPs were observed using infrared cameras to monitor animal activity in the area. Following this, the …

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