First British Badger Vaccination Trial Results Published

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales has been campaigning against the badger cull and for a vaccination programme since 2009.

Vaccinating badgers against bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is an affordable and viable alternative to culling according to a new report, published today, by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, our sister organisation across the border.

The Badger Vaccination Deployment Programme, which took place this summer, was the first of its kind in the UK undertaken by a private organisation. Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust ran the programme at seven of its nature reserves, including a dairy farm; a total of 170 hectares. Badger

The report outlines the full costs involved in the trial and demonstrates that if groups of land owners join together to vaccinate badgers against bTB, it would become affordable with no associated negative impact. Culling, as its most vocal supporters admit, may increase bTB in neighbouring herds through perturbation and as yet no proven benefit.

“We are delighted with the results. The report provides proof that there is an affordable alternative to the proposed cull” Said Dr. Gordon McGlone OBE, Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.

“Bovine TB is a big problem but local culling of one of our much-loved native animals is not the answer. Scientists have spent that last 12 years investigating whether killing badgers will halt this serious disease in cattle and the answer they are getting is that it could well make the problem worse.”

The report suggest ways in which badger vaccination could be made cheaper, such as the removal of the Certificate of Competence costs and also recommends a free bTB vaccine advisory service is set up.

Costing only £51 per hectare, The Trust wants the Government and landowners to take badger vaccination seriously as a viable alternative to the proposed cull.

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Notes to editors:
Badgers and Bovine TB – What’s the issue?
1. Wildlife Trusts across the UK accept that bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is a significant problem for farming in the UK and that urgent action is required to combat the disease. We are extremely sympathetic to the plight of farmers affected by the disease and recognise the serious disruption and anxiety caused to farmers experiencing a bTB herd breakdown.
2. However, on the basis of current scientific evidence, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust opposes the culling of badgers to help control bTB in cattle. There is currently no firm scientific evidence to support the view that badgers are the main source of transmission of bTB to cattle or that localised culling of badgers is an effective way of preventing the transmission of bTB from a wildlife reservoir to cattle. In fact, the science indicates that localised badger culling may in fact make bTB worse.
3. We believe that if Defra do go ahead with their badger culling proposals, they will be ignoring scientific evidence, wasting farmers’ time and taxpayers’ money, and most importantly killing large numbers of one of Britain’s most protected species – an action which we consider to be unacceptable.
Notes…
1. Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust is a countywide charity which manages 60 nature reserves covering over 2,000 acres in addition to identifying key sites of nature importance. Our aim is to secure a natural environment which the people of Gloucestershire and visitors to the area can enjoy for generations to come. We have a local membership of over 25,000 people and work with 450 regular volunteers who give their time to support the Trust’s work. Further information can be found on our website: www.gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk

2. The Wildlife Trusts is a network of 47 local Wildlife Trusts across the UK. Our vision is ‘an environment richer in wildlife for everyone’ and we’re the largest UK charity dedicated to conserving all our habitats and species, with a membership of more than 800,000 people including 200,000 junior members. We campaign for the protection of wildlife and invest in the future by helping people of all ages to gain a greater appreciation and understanding of wildlife. Collectively, we manage more than 2,300 nature reserves spanning over 80,000 hectares. For further information about The Wildlife Trusts please telephone 0870 036 7711 or visit www.wildlifetrusts.org