New Zealand has had a long history of Mycobacterium bovis (TB) infection in cattle, and latterly deer, herds. This has been largely driven by wild animal infection, primarily possums, an introduced pest into New Zealand which is also responsible for extensive flora and fauna damage. New Zealand has been able to control its bovine TB problem through the targeted control of these infected wild animal populations and at the same time achieve significant collateral benefit to flora and fauna protection. The New Zealand TB control strategy provides a working example of the convergence of human, animal and conservation medicine.
This paper will describe the history of the introduction of mammals (wild and domestic) into New Zealand which has led to the establishment of a complex ecological and epidemiological web of bovine TB in man, domestic animals and particularly wildlife species. The same introductions have led to large scale destruction of native flora and fauna. The paper will describe the various plans and strategies implemented over a seventy year period to successfully control bovine TB in New Zealand, especially the control of the disease in wildlife populations over the past 40 years.
The paper will also present a series of cases studies of the collateral beneficial impact on native flora and fauna protection resulting from the wildlife pest control strategies implemented for bovine TB control.