The Minister of State for Agriculture, John Browne, has said Ireland is going to have to control TB in badgers to prevent them spreading the disease to cattle.

TB was one of the most widespread diseases in cattle and the Government has spent over €100 million trying to combat it.

At the opening of the fourth international conference on Bovine Tuberculosis in Dublin Castle, Mr Browne said that while TB has been eradicated in many countries, wildlife has played an important role in the persistence of the disease in Ireland as well as in the UK and New Zealand.

He said the Government would have regard to environmental considerations and the legal protection afforded to badgers.

But he said his department is implementing a strategic programme for wildlife control when wildlife is implicated in outbreaks of TB on farms.

The Dublin conference is being attended by over 300 delegates from 35 countries.