Of BBOWT reveals the plans for the vaccination of badgers
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