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Tracing of Canadian cattle imports

Tracing of Canadian cattle imports

Over the last seven years 17 Canadian cattle have been imported into New Zealand.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) instigated extensive tracing yesterday following notification of a case of BSE (Bovine Spongiform encephalopathy) in a Canadian cow.

Carolyn Hini, MAF’s Acting Director Animal Biosecurity, said three import permits had been issued over the seven years which covered the importation of one animal in 1994, which has since been culled, and16 Dexter cattle in 1999, of which 14 are still alive.

“MAF will continue to trace any possible Canadian cattle imports as far back as 1989. This is twice the length of time required under international standards set by the World Organisation for Animal Health.

The Dexter cattle have all been ear tagged and were last inspected in July 2002. They will continue to be monitored as part of MAF’s tracking scheme for imported ruminants outlined in the Biosecurity (Imported Animals, Embryos and Semen) Regulations 1999.

“New Zealand has in place very rigorous measures to ensure we remain free of BSE,” Dr Hini said.

These include ongoing surveillance involving animals showing signs of nervous disease, abattoir surveys, and monitoring of imported animals. MAF tests more than 3000 brain samples a year. There is also a prohibition on the feeding of ruminant protein to ruminants – a way by which the disease can be spread.

All imported cattle into New Zealand are ear tagged and recorded on a national register which details owners name and contact details. Cattle owners must notify the Director of Animal Products if the animal is sold, dies, lost, or sent for slaughter. It is illegal under the Biosecurity Act 1993 to deface, amend or remove the MAF ear tags.

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