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Badger Vaccination Starts

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Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 11:08am 6th November 2013

A vaccination pilot is underway in Cornwall in a bid to stop Bovine TB spreading.

Volunteers are trapping badgers and giving them jabs.

They are hoping it proves more successful than the controversial cull.

That has been hailed a success, despite missing its targets.

Professor Rosie Woodroffe has helped organise the vaccinations and said:  "Bovine TB is a huge problem for farmers in Cornwall and elsewhere in Britain.  As controversy rages around badger culling in other parts of the country, it's exciting to see wildlife groups working alongside farmers to try to help find a sustainable solution."

St Ives MP Andrew George has also been campaigning for the programme and said:  "If we find - as we expect - that the practical challenges of undertaking the vaccination project are manageable then it will be significantly scaled up over the next five years.  I am delighted that the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has now appointed a Project Co-ordinator and is planning for project success.

"There is of course much further work to be done.  I have a meeting with the Madron and Praze Young Farmers Clubs members next week to explore ways in which they could help and also with Defra Minister, George Eustice MP, in a couple of weeks' time when Professor Rosie Woodroffe and I will update Defra officials and Ministers on the progress of the pilot project and compare our results with the Government's pilots in Gloucestershire and Somerset.

"Badgers are remarkable creatures and I'm certain that the many people who have volunteered to take part will learn a lot and have great fun."

Bob Speechley's from Cornwall Badger Rescue: "The best way would be actually to vaccinate the cattle but at the moment we can't use the vaccine because it's not licensed by the EU. Vaccinating the badgers does reduce the infection rate by 75% it also give herd immunity which means the cubs next year will have less chance of catching TB.

"You pre-bait the traps for five days and then you have two days of actually trapping, which is where you catch the badgers, you vaccinate them, you spray them with a marker and then release them so you know if you catch the same ones the next day you can just open the cage and release them."

Duchy farmers' leaders are not as convinced though. They feel that the only way to deal with the disease, which can wipe out herds of cattle, is to cull.

Ian Johnson speaks for the NFU and says vaccination is not an option: "It doesn't cure sick badgers, then you've got the practicalities of trapping and injecting badgers every 12 months at a cost of about £600 per badger, now who's going to pay for it?

"They haven't got a specific vaccine, they use a concentrated dose of the human BCG vaccine, so they don't know how effective it is. It's only 50-60% effective anyway. What they need is an oral vaccine, that is some years away."

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