Somerset Wildlife Trust is set to begin a badger vaccination programme in West Somerset.
The county’s leading environmental voluntary body will not allow culling to take place on land it owns and will start a badger vaccination programme next week.
Twelve hectares of land in the affected area have been surveyed to ascertain the location of badger setts. Contractors, trained and licensed by Defra, will administer the injectable badgerBCG vaccine over the next six weeks.
Simon Nash, Chief Executive of Somerset Wildlife Trust, said:
“We recognise the hardship that bovineTB (bTB) causes in the farming community and the need to find the right mechanisms to control the disease. However, we believe that a badger cull is not the answer and that the proposed method of culling could make bTB worse.
“To ensure we play our part in controlling the reservoir of disease we are vaccinating badgers on our land affected by the cull.”
Somerset is one of 11 Wildlife Trusts now working on badger vaccination programmes to prove vaccination is the best way forward to tackle bTB.
As a movement, The Wildlife Trusts is keen for the farming community, conservation organisations and the Government to continue to work together to confront this disease through the following measures:
- Biosecurity: All possible measures should be pursued to prevent disease transmission on-farm
- Badger vaccination: Support landowners to use the injectable BadgerBCG vaccine. We also urge Defra to continue development of an oral badger vaccine
- Cattle vaccine: Complete development of a cattle vaccine and secure change to EU regulation to permit its commercial deployment.
For more information
Read more about about badgers and bovine TB and find out what you can do.
Notes to editors:
1. More about vaccination
Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s Badger Vaccination Deployment Programme, which took place over the summer in 2011, was the first of its kind in the UK undertaken by a voluntary organisation.
Results of this trial were published in October 2011 demonstrating it to be an affordable and viable alternative to culling. To download the report go to www.wildlifetrusts.org/badgers-and-bovinetb
For FAQs on vaccination go to www.gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk/what-we-do/bovine-tb/science/frequently-asked-questions
2. How could a badger cull make the bovine TB problem worse?
Badgers typically live in social groups of four to seven animals with defined territorial boundaries. Culling disrupts the organisation of these social groups, increasing the risks of disease transmission.
This is known as the 'perturbation effect'. The Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB concluded in its final report (2007) that it was 'unable to conceive of a system of culling, other than the systematic elimination, or virtual elimination, of badgers over very extensive areas, that would avoid the serious adverse consequences of perturbation'.
To view The Wildlife Trust’s information sheet on the perturbation effect go to www.wildlifetrusts.org/badgers-and-bovineTB
3. Somerset Wildlife Trust is the county’s leading environmental voluntary body, with around 21,000 members. The charity owns and/or manages 70 nature reserves all over the county. Money raised is spent to restore, recreate and reconnect our damaged countryside by creating living landscapes for wildlife and people. We help wildlife adapt to climate change, encourage sustainable living, fight to save sites where wildlife is threatened by monitoring development and inspire people to create more green space bringing environmental, social and economic benefits. www.somersetwildlife.org
Somerset Wildlife Trust is one of 47 in the UK. Together, they are The Wildlife Trusts. www.wildlifetrusts.org