NFU and Badger Trust join forces on vaccination project
THE NFU and the Badger Trust have formed an unlikely alliance on a project to vaccinate badgers for bovine tuberculosis (bTB).
In addition, the Badger Trust has identified five other landowners around the UK wishing to vaccinate badgers and is working independently with them as part of the initial trial project.
Vaccination on all seven farms started in October after surveys were carried out to identify active badger setts and licences have been granted by Natural England. The vaccination project will run until the end of November 2011 and resume in May 2012.
It is hoped that the two programmes, although small in scale, will help to identify whether the injectable vaccination of badgers is practical and cost effective.
The NFU and the Badger Trust said they would continue to encourage research and development into an orally-delivered badger vaccine.
The NFU and Badger Trust have repeatedly clashed over the years on the relative merits of badger culling and badger vaccination as approaches to controlling bTB in wildlife and cattle.
Mr Royle said: “We are pleased that the NFU and the Badger Trust have successfully liaised to facilitate this joint project, sharing equipment and resources as necessary, despite having differing views on the degree to which badgers are implicated in the transmission of bovine Tuberculosis.”
Mr Boulter said: “We hope that with the use of volunteers to help with the work of surveying, trap-setting and pre-baiting, we can successfully implement an effective badger vaccination programme.”
Two NFU members, including Mr Royle, and five members of groups affiliated to the Badger Trust attended and passed badger vaccination courses run by the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA). This enables them to obtain the necessary certificate of competence as lay vaccinators, qualifying them to inject badgers with the BCG vaccine.
The Government is expected to make a final announcement before Christmas on whether to give the go ahead to two proposed pilot badger culls next year.