UK – A new badger tuberculosis vaccination programme will run in counties surrounding England’s high risk areas to stop the disease spreading from the South West and the Midlands.
Vaccinations will form an ‘edge area’ to create a buffer zone of healthy badger populations, the government said yesterday.
Eligible projects will predominantly be in the edge area, including the counties of Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Cheshire, to cover a minimum area of 15 kilometres squared.
Such area-based projects have an important role to play, said British Veterinary Association President Robin Hargreaves.
Welcoming the announcement, he added: “Recent post-mortem evidence from road killed badgers in Cheshire, one of the counties in the edge area, shows provisional 24 per cent infection rates among badgers, which may indicate that the edge is advancing and thus illustrates the urgency of dealing with bovine TB in both high risk and edge areas.”
He cautioned that no single measure will tackle Bovine TB, eluding to other measures in the strategy which must be delivered.
These form part of a government big to rid England of TB by 2038.
Tighter cattle movement controls, tougher penalties on late testing, trialling and developing a cattle vaccine, better advice for farmers trading cattle and badger culling in high risk areas are part of the government’s approach which includes badger vaccinations.
While not able to cure badgers already carrying TB, vaccination can play a ‘vital role’ in creating a barrier, said UK chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbons.
He added: “I would urge groups to take advantage of this vaccination offer and join in with this important effort to halt the disease spreading throughout England.”
Farming minister George Eustice said the scheme was justifiable as TB was a threat to the nation’s economy and food security.
He added: “I want to see vaccination groups come together, building on prior experience to deliver badger vaccination in the edge area.
“This could be an important part of our collective efforts, to prevent the spread of this terrible disease in cattle to new areas of the country.”
The Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme (BEVS) includes 50 per cent funding for vaccination costs and advice. Traps and vaccines are free.