Shropshire Wildlife Trust in opposition to badger cull
Friday 28th September 2012
Badger receiving vaccination
Shropshire Wildlife Trust is opposed to the Government’s plan to cull badgers, which will be put into action over the coming weeks. “Culling is likely to be counter-productive and could even result in an increase in the disease, as infected badgers disperse from their settled communities, panicked by shooting,” said Helen Trotman for Shropshire Wildlife Trust.
Sir David Attenborough, President Emeritus of The Wildlife Trusts and Simon King, the conservation organisation’s President, have both spoken out against culling, criticising the strategy for its lack of scientific rigor.
The Wildlife Trusts are deeply conscious of the hardship suffered by farmers affected by bovine TB in their cattle herds and along with several others, Shropshire Wildlife Trust is exploring ways of controlling the disease. It is starting a five-year programme of badger vaccination on one of its nature reserves in the north of the county this week, alongside a similar project just over the border run by Cheshire Wildlife Trust.
A local veterinary practice is working with Shropshire Wildlife Trust to promote badger vaccination, while several landowners within the area are keen to get involved. The work will be monitored by the Animal Health Veterinary Laboratories Agency to assess its effectiveness. Through this project, Shropshire Wildlife Trust hopes to make a real contribution to solving the problem of bTB based on scientific principles.
“We believe that strategic use of badger vaccination could play a significant role in creating a firebreak against the disease,” said Helen Trotman, who has been trained to trap and inject badgers with the vaccine. “Alone, our project will make little difference to the spread of the disease, but the willingness of other landowners to trial vaccination is encouraging and we intend to heighten awareness with decision makers that there are ways of controlling bovine TB that do not involve killing badgers.”
The Wildlife Trusts are urging Defra to concentrate its efforts on developing an oral badger vaccine and to complete the development of a cattle vaccine and secure changes to EU regulation to permit its commercial deployment.