The Wildlife Trusts welcome the Environment Secretary’s announcement to delay the badger cull but are disappointed by his (economic) motives.
The Wildlife Trusts strongly urge the Government to use this time to focus on and plan a comprehensive vaccination strategy. The Government has not prioritised deployment of the BadgerBCG vaccine, taking a piecemeal approach with minimal effort to market and support its use.
A greater commitment to badger vaccination
Paul Wilkinson, Head of Living Landscape for The Wildlife Trusts, said: “Delaying this cull for economic reasons does not offer any reassurance that this Government has reached a turning point in its approach to bovineTB. What it should do is draw a line under any consideration of a badger cull.
“We continue to press the Government to demonstrate much greater commitment to badger vaccination and shall continue to push the EU to change the rules to allow a cattle vaccine to be deployed, once development is complete. Now is the time for all parties to throw their weight behind cattle-to-cattle control measures, vaccine development and deployment and improved biosecurity to deal with bovineTB.”
An affordable and viable alternative to culling
Twelve Wildlife Trusts are working on badger vaccination programmes including Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. GWT’s 2011 programme was the first of its kind in the UK to be undertaken by a voluntary organisation. The Trust ran the programme at seven sites, including a dairy farm and covering a total of 170 hectares. Initial results regarding the practicalities of vaccination demonstrate it to be an affordable and viable alternative to culling.
The Wildlife Trusts strongly urge 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 develop a comprehensive vaccination strategy and 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.