Of BBOWT re­veals the plans for the vac­ci­na­tion of bad­gers

Wendy To­bitt

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - GREEN SPACES - WENDY TO­BITT

AS THE Gov­ern­ment’s six-week bad­ger cull in parts of Glouces­ter­shire and Som­er­set, where the ‘cull com­pa­nies’ aim to kill up to 1,876 bad­gers, draws to a close later this month, the lo­cal Wildlife Trust has started to vac­ci­nate bad­gers on its na­ture re­serves.

The Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) firmly op­poses the bad­ger culls and will not per­mit culling of bad­gers on its land. The Wildlife Trusts be­lieve that culling can be counter-pro­duc­tive, be­cause it causes bad­gers to dis­perse into a wider area with the risk of spread­ing bovine TB fur­ther.

In­stead, the trusts are call­ing for a na­tional bad­ger vac­ci­na­tion strat­egy, to­gether with stricter mea­sures re­gard­ing the move­ment of cat­tle, im­proved TB test­ing of cat­tle so that fewer in­fected cat­tle are missed, and bet­ter dis­ease risk man­age­ment on farms.

Buck­ing­hamshire is part an area iden­ti­fied by Defra as the Edge, where in­ci­dences of bovine TB are not as high as coun­ties in the West Coun­try and West Mid­lands.

Defra is sup­port­ing the vac­ci­na­tion of bad­gers in the Edge area with gra for train­ing and equip­ment.

Ear­lier this year, BBOWT Trus­tees ap­proved the ex­ten­sion of a pro­gramme of bad­ger vac­ci­na­tion, which started in 2012 on the trust’s Chim­ney Mead­ows na­ture re­serve in west Ox­ford­shire, to other re­serves.

Four of the wildlife trust’s staff are now trained and li­cenced as lay vac­ci­na­tors.

This month they be­gan a five-year pro­gramme of vac­ci­na­tion on BBOWT na­ture re­serves west of Ox­ford where bad­gers are known to have their setts. Th­ese sites were cho­sen be­cause they are close to known cases of bovine TB, have cur­rent bad­ger ac­tiv­ity, and are grazed by cat­tle.

BBOWT would like to ex­tend the vac­ci­na­tion pro­gramme into Buck­ing­hamshire.

The Trust plans to work with lo­cal landown­ers, the NFU, the Ox­ford­shire Bad­ger Group, which is al­ready vac­ci­nat­ing bad­gers in Bucks, and other trained lay vac­ci­na­tors to cre­ate a net­work of sites where bad­gers will be vac­ci­nated ev­ery year for at least five years.

This will help to build up re­sis­tance to bovine TB dis­ease by build­ing up ‘herd’ im­mu­nity in vac­ci­nated bad­ger pop­u­la­tions.

For more in­for­ma­tion about bad­ger vac­ci­na­tion go to www.bbowt.org.uk/ bad­gers.

Vac­ci­nated bad­ger in Cheshire

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