Badger vaccination restarts one year on

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has defied the odds to resume badger vaccination one year after vaccine supplies dried up
Badger Vaccination Tom Marshall

Tom Marshall

The Wildlife Trusts are delighted to announce that a scheme to vaccinate badgers against bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is now underway again, one year after vaccine supplies dried up. In December 2015, the World Health Organization announced that there was a global shortage of TB vaccine for humans. This meant that The Wildlife Trusts had to suspend their badger vaccination programmes during 2016.

Now a new supply of vaccine has been obtained by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust following several months negotiating supplies and obtaining permission from the Veterinary Medicines Directorate to import the InterVax TB vaccine. Derbyshire Wildlife Trust Chair and veterinary surgeon, Dr Sue Mayer, who secured the vaccine from a Canadian company has also been training twelve dedicated volunteers in how to use the new vaccine delivery system. Thirty badgers have already been successfully vaccinated, including twelve badger cubs, and the next round of vaccinations is due to start on Thursday 6th July. Vaccine from the same source was used to successfully vaccinate badgers in the Republic of Ireland in 2016.

Dr Mayer says: “Derbyshire Wildlife Trust is delighted to be leading the way across the country and vaccinating badgers against TB in 2017. UNICEF now say all country needs for human TB vaccine can be met so we wanted to start vaccinating badgers as soon as we could. Vaccination is a better solution than culling which research indicates can spread the disease further. It’s also cheaper and avoids the indiscriminate killing of healthy animals.”
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has been carrying out the badger vaccination programme across Derbyshire since 2014 – working with farmers and landowners and showing that a successful programme of badger vaccination can be achieved in partnership with the help of dozens of trained volunteers. DWT’s badger vaccination programme has been developed in close partnership with the National Trust, National Farmers Union (NFU), Derbyshire’s Badger Groups and the Country Land and Business Association (CLA).

The Trust’s pioneering approach to acquiring a vaccine has allowed other vaccination programmes across the country to restart, including those of Chester Zoo, other badger groups, Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust and Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT).

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust have also obtained doses of the InterVax vaccine and will begin vaccinating badgers on a large area on the Nottinghamshire/Leicestershire border imminently. Working with local landowners, they have now surveyed around 60 farms, over an area of more than 50km2. Traps have been placed out on participating farms with the help of 40 volunteers in order to target badgers from around 20 active setts. Vaccination will continue until Autumn and will build on previous work which began in 2015 to build TB immunity in Nottinghamshire’s badgers.

BBOWT’s badger vaccination programme is resuming in early July, and will continue through the remainder of the vaccination season, which runs until November. Badgers will be trapped and vaccinated in a 15km2 project area around their nature reserve at Greenham Common in West Berkshire, before the team moves to the nature reserves in west Oxfordshire.

Defra is committed to securing vaccine for badger vaccination programmes in 2018 and Trusts will be discussing this renewed support this summer.