Badger Vaccination

Badger Andrew MasonBadger Andrew Mason

The aim of badger vaccination is to reduce transmission of bTB between badgers and between badgers and cattle. It reduces the severity of the disease, the shedding of bacteria from infected individual badgers and therefore the prevalence of disease in badger populations.

BadgerBCG alone is not the solution to bTB, but it does have an immediate effect with no associated negative impact. Culling, as its most vocal supporters admit, produces an increase in bTB in neighbouring herds through perturbation and as yet no proven benefit. Indeed, the Independent Scientific Group research concluded that culling should not be part of the government ‘toolbox’.

The Wildlife Trusts’ badger advisory group submitted a very clear set of responses to the Defra consultation:

  • Badger vaccination should be explored as the major way, in the short to medium term, of tackling badger-cattle and badger-badger transfer of bTB.
  • All possible biosecurity measures should be pursued following the ISG recommendations, and where appropriate regulating their application by farmers and landowners, and providing advice, support and incentive.
  • More research should be carried out into the incidence of bTB within different farming methods.
  • Current testing methods and regimes should be reviewed and more effective testing methods developed.
  • A cattle vaccine against bTB should be developed as a matter of priority and all legislative hurdles overcome to enable this to become the long term solution to bTB.
  • The Wildlife Trusts made it clear that badgers, whilst a significant part of the wildlife reservoir of bTB, are not the major source of infection within the national herd.

The Wildlife Trusts believes that by playing an active role in promoting BadgerBCG vaccination, it is contributing to a practical solution. The industry needs a long term answer, vaccination offers hope. 

Paul Wilkinson, Head of Living Landscape for The Wildlife Trusts, said:
Scientists oppose the cull, the public opposes the cull and now MPs have voted against a cull.  

It is time for the Government to listen and use the available alternatives to tackle bTB.

A badger vaccine is available now and improved biosecurity measures can help to reduce the spread of the disease. In the longer term a cattle vaccine can play a very real part in helping deal with the problem and the Government should now be putting the effort into ensuring this vaccine can be deployed as soon as possible.”

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, Cheshire Wildlife Trust, Shropshire Wildlife Trust, South & West Wales Wildlife Trust and Somerset Wildlife Trust are all running their own badger vaccination programmes.

The vaccination programme has been carried out by employees from the Welsh Government who have successfully completed The Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) course relating to the cage trapping and vaccination of badgers by injection. The Welsh Government has also released footage of the vaccination taking place here.

Further information about each Wildlife Trusts badger vaccination programme can be found on their own respective websites.