Somerset: ‘Badger vaccination starts as cull’s court date approaches’

Posted on August 29, 2012


Today (29th August), a news item was posted on titled ‘Badger vaccination starts as cull’s court date approaches’.

‘… A mass badger vaccination programme has begun in the area of a proposed cull, days before a vital legal challenge is heard.

The four-year project, targeting badgers in West Somerset, is part of a plan by badger supporters to prove theirs is the best method of countering bovine TB …

Adrian Coward, chairman of Somerset Badger Group, said they would be working with farmers and hope to offer a real alternative to shooting animals.

“During field trials, the vaccine has been proved to be effective in at least 74 per cent of badgers vaccinated,” he said, adding that the vaccination programme was important because it would not encourage a phenomenon known as perturbation, where badgers are believed to wander from their setts in the immediate aftermath of a cull.

This, he said, increases the likelihood of spreading the disease rather than containing it, but vaccination posed no such danger as research showed inoculated badgers tended to remain in their home ranges.

“It is the modern, scientific way to conquer the disease and unlike culling does not carry the risk of causing infection to spread,” said Mr Coward.

Somerset Badger Group is working with Secret World Wildlife Rescue of Highbridge, supported by the Badger Trust and Network for Animals.

Licensed badger catchers trap the animals after several nights of familiarisation with uncocked cages baited with peanuts.

At first light, the badgers are given a health check, vaccinated, marked and released without harm.

To monitor the programme, farms will be revisited at regular intervals and it is hoped this will increase the proportion of badgers included.

Vaccination by licensed members of badger groups began last autumn and was co-ordinated by the Badger Trust.

In it, specially trained leaders and volunteers established procedures in the field monitored and approved by senior veterinary staff from Defra.

Badgers on farms in Devon, Cornwall, Worcestershire, Derbyshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire have already been vaccinated.

A spokesman for the Badger Trust said the vaccination programme was entirely separate from the charity’s legal action, which began last month after the High Court dismissed its bid to block the cull.

The group then lodged an application with the Court of Appeal and a hearing is expected to be held next month …’

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