Peter Burgess, Director of Conservation and Development, Devon Wildlife Trust says:
“We support the review’s recommendation that the focus of the strategy should be shifted to addressing the transmission of bTB between cattle. This is the main route of infection. Only 1 in 20 cases of bTB herd infections are transmitted directly from badgers, so culling badgers is not the answer. Several scientific studies have demonstrated that culling increases the prevalence of bTB in the badger population, and results in it spreading to other areas. We believe that more must be done by both the government and farmers to improve farm biosecurity and cattle movement controls.”
Peter Burgess continues:
“Badger vaccination should be used strategically, with more resources invested to roll out a widespread vaccination programme. Vaccination has the potential to reduce bTB infection prevalence in the badger population, and hence bTB risks to cattle, without the harmful effects associated with culling such as increased prevalence of TB in badgers plus spreading the disease. The review highlights the potential for a large-scale badger vaccination programme as an alternative to culling which Devon Wildlife Trusts welcomes. The government should do more to support rolling vaccination out to more areas of the country.
The Wildlife Trusts have proved that badger vaccination can tackle bTB in badgers, and Wildlife Trusts have demonstrated it’s do-able. Twelve Wildlife Trusts across England and Wales conducted badger vaccination programmes between 2011-2015*. In this time, we vaccinated more than 1500 badgers. The largest programme is run by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust who train lay vaccinators on behalf of the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).
The Wildlife Trusts are ideally placed to work with the government and farmers to deliver badger vaccination at a wide-scale.
Devon Wildlife Trust calls on the government to:
• Halt the badger cull now.
• Invest in and promote a strategy for badger vaccination. This should be led and funded by the government, across England.
• Invest more time and resource in supporting improved farm biosecurity and movement controls.
• Accelerate development of more effective and sensitive tests for bTB in cattle to avoid significant numbers of infected cattle remaining in the herd;
• Put serious investment into a bTB cattle vaccine. This is a cattle problem, not a wildlife problem.
The Wildlife Trusts are urging people to write to their MPs asking them to help stop the cull. Find MPs here: www.theyworkforyou.com/mps/
You can find out more information on our website here: www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-and-wild-places/saving-species/badgers.
*Hampshire & Isle of Wight; South & West Wales; Shropshire; Gloucestershire; Leicestershire & Rutland; Staffordshire; Berks, Bucks & Oxon; Warwickshire; Cheshire; Derbyshire; Dorset, and Nottinghamshire.
More information about the badger cull is available on The Wildlife Trusts’ website www.wildlifetrusts.org/badgers.