A section of the old railway.
A section of the old railway. Scott Powick

Rail trail riders could introduce mad cow disease

LATE last century, a bull near Murwillumbah killed someone who strayed into his paddock.

If a tourist entered a bull's paddock from the proposed pushbike trail, perhaps 'caught short' and seeking privacy, would the bull be euthanased?

Would the farmer be liable?

From any nationality, that 'dump' in the cattle paddock could bring human tapeworm eggs and carcass condemnation for Beef Measles.

An English backpacker discarding a SPAM tin could introduce Mad Cow Disease.

Its 'infectious protein' survives canning and is fatal to beast or human.

Forty tonnes of illegally imported meats, and fifteen tonnes of legumes, were confiscated at Australia's borders, 2016 (AMLC). How much avoided detection?

Local universities draw South American students.

Argentinian farm dirt on one sock could introduce Foot & Mouth Disease.

It is super infectious, travelling 40km on the wind.

The estimated cost: $120 million every hour it goes unreported (Livestock Biosecurity Network).

Horseriders will use the corridor. Some will bring dogs which may attack stock, run them through fences or carry Brucellosis.

Murwillumbah recently had a horse euthanased for Hendra Virus long after testing false-negative. Casino and Lismore lost horses but, so far, no people.

Worldwide, motorbikes are impossible to keep off pushbike tracks.

Barriers are detoured, fences cut, and gates opened.

With few access points, policing is impossible.

Stroppy farmers risk retaliatory vandalism, theft and fire. Landholders will be expected to control dogs and pigs attracted by food scraps and human wastes. Who will dare raise a gun?

From October 2017, farms must have Biosecurity Plans and exclude disease sources, an impossibility with random foot/bike/horse entry.

Premiums for 'Clean Green' milk, meat, even the whole $50 billion livestock industry would be jeopardised. Shire councillors enabling these risks must bear responsibility for human fatalities and farmers' losses.

Geoff Reid,

Rock Valley.

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