Government response to badger vaccination lacks bite

Wednesday 16th October 2013

Badger vaccination cpt Tom MarshallBadger vaccination cpt Tmo Marshall

Government efforts to eradicate bovine TB lack commitment and enthusiasm for badger vaccination - with a clear strategy sadly lacking.

Although The Wildlife Trusts welcome the Government’s acknowledgment today that ‘badger vaccination must form part of any strategy to eradicate bovine TB’, the conservation organisation believes greater Government commitment, leadership and renewed enthusiasm for injectable badger vaccination programmes and cattle vaccine are needed.

The Government should facilitate partnership working as part of a coordinated vaccination strategy, which will drive down cost and increase benefits

The Government’s continued investment in oral badger vaccine research, which is considered a priority, is welcome and The Wildlife Trusts acknowledge that this research will take time.  However, the injectable badger vaccine is available now and should be recognised as a valuable and viable tool.  Government must take a leading role and step up efforts to deploy a coordinated and effective badger vaccination programme across large areas of England.

Paul Wilkinson, Head of Living Landscape at The Wildlife Trusts, said:

"We remain deeply disappointed with the Government’s general lack of enthusiasm and commitment to badger vaccination and its continual reference to barriers.  The negative messages from Government are both frustrating and irresponsible.  It has a role to promote badger vaccination to farmers and take action to ensure that a coordinated and strategic programme of badger vaccination does happen.  Government must take a lead rather than sit back and say there’s no enthusiasm within the farming community.

13 Wildlife Trusts are now running, or fundraising for, injectable badger vaccination programmes on nature reserves and in partnership with farmers and landowners.  Vaccination is the only approach to reduce the prevalence of bTB within badger populations.

Paul Wilkinson added: 

"If the same level of Government effort, support and positive messaging were applied to vaccination as have been applied to culling in the pilot areas of Gloucestershire and Somerset, it would be a different story.  The Government should facilitate partnership working as part of a coordinated vaccination strategy, which will drive down cost and increase benefits.

We continue to call on the Government to drop badger culling from its proposed bTB strategy and focus efforts on badger and cattle vaccination, stricter cattle movement controls and improved biosecurity.”

The Wildlife Trusts’ comments refer to the Government's response, published on Wednesday 16 October, to The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee’s report on Vaccination against bovine TB in its Second Report of Session 2013-14, published on 5 June 2013.  You can read the report at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmenvfru/705/70503.htm

For more information about The Wildlife Trusts’ views and activities to control bovine TB, including our vaccination programmes, visit www.wildlifetrusts.org/appeals/badgers and keep up-to-date on this, and other issues, through @wildlifetrusts on twitter.

Tagged with: Badgers, BovineTB