A DEER herd in North Yorkshire has been confirmed as having TB – with the farmer working with authorities to eradicate the disease for the last three years.

Roger and Julia Clutterbuck, who farm at Hornby Castle, near Bedale, first spotted signs of the disease in 2012 and have since been carefully testing the herd, which has reduced from 500 to 300.

Mr Clutterbuck, who introduced the deer to their farm ten years ago, said: “TB has been confirmed in the deer herd and with encouragement from the Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs and the National Farmers' Union (NFU) we have been working to eradicate it.

“Despite the very complex nature of the disease and the long haul, we believe we will over time get on top of it.

“We are conscious of the importance of not letting it spread into local wildlife, and at this point there is no TB in our suckler herd of cattle.”

Richard Pearson, NFU regional director, said: “We are working with Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) both regionally and nationally, and are working to support our members who have been faced with increased monitoring of cattle health as a result.

“Everyone affected is working together to resolve this situation and good progress is being made.

“The goal of all concerned is to eradicate this outbreak and protect the area’s healthy cattle and healthy wildlife.”

An APHA spokesman said: “APHA is managing an ongoing case of TB in a deer herd in North Yorkshire.

"As with all new TB incidents in the low risk areas of England, an enhanced bovine TB surveillance zone was instigated around the farm and remains in force, with cattle herds within a three kilometre radius subject to more regular testing.

“Each year there are a small number of bovine TB incidents in North Yorkshire. The area remains a low risk area for bovine TB.

“Evidence shows that deer are a ‘spill-over’ host and appear to pose a very small risk of spreading TB to cattle and badgers.”

The British Deer Society said deer-to-deer transmission of TB has been shown to often be respiratory, and can also occur through faecal contamination of pasture, and by susceptible deer sharing feed with infected animals.

BDS added that although deer-to-cattle or badger-to-deer infection has not been demonstrated, neither has it been fully investigated.