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The BBC's Jane O'Brien in Dartmoor
"No link has yet been established"
 real 56k

The BBC's Daniel Boettcher
"Some smaller butchers are already running short"
 real 56k

David Hill, NFU
"We don't want the misery to turn into a catastrophe"
 real 28k

Monday, 5 March, 2001, 16:30 GMT
Foot-and-mouth threat to Dartmoor
Dartmoor
46,000 cattle and sheep grazing on Dartmoor are at risk
Fears have intensified that foot-and-mouth disease may have spread to Dartmoor's wildlife with the news that a second suspected case is being investigated at a farm on the moor.

The announcement follows Sunday's confirmation of an outbreak of the disease at a 600-acre tenant farm on the edge of the moor, owned by the Prince of Wales's Duchy of Cornwall estate.

Vets investigating that outbreak at Dunna Bridge Farm, Two Bridges, have since said they believe it is linked to other known cases in the country.

But the second suspected case again raises the spectre that the 46,000 cattle and sheep that graze freely on Dartmoor's common land would have to be slaughtered.


No one wants to see a mass cull on Dartmoor

National Farmers' Union
Vets now have to decide if any infected animals have been grazing on the common.

However chief veterinary officer Jim Scudamore said there were no plans to cull wild ponies on Dartmoor.

There are also no plans to start culling wild boar and deer.

The airborne disease spreading to the free-roaming animals would be a "nightmare scenario", according to the National Farmers' Union (NFU).

NFU spokesman David Hill suggested that the Army could be used to prevent wildlife and livestock moving between the common and the infected farms.

"We don't want the misery to turn into a catastrophe," he told BBC News.

Disinfected mats

"No one wants to see a mass cull on Dartmoor. That would be the worst possible solution."

Groups responsible for the Dartmoor National Park are calling for disinfected mats to be laid at main road access points to the moor.

The 365-square mile moor, which has a 5,000-year farming tradition, has already been declared a no-go zone for recreational use, but roads across it can still be used.


At the moment the first line of defence lies at the farm gate

Devon County Council
The secretary of the Dartmoor Commoners Council, Cherry Sage, said the mats could be used stop the disease being spread by vehicle wheels.

"If we can get the main routes done it would be something to raise public awareness," said Mrs Sage.

But a spokesman for Devon County Council said that the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food was not asking for the measure, and the NFU thought it was unnecessary.

There was a possibility that the mats could become "skating rinks" for vehicles in freezing weather, said the county spokesman.

"At the moment the first line of defence lies at the farm gate," he added.

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