Time to support badger vaccinations says Trust

6:00pm Monday 2nd December 2013

THE Cheshire Wildlife Trust has said the ‘dismal failure’ of badger culling trials - which have resulted in the licencing agency revoking an eight-week extension in Gloucestershire – means the process should not be rolled out across the country.

Cheshire Wildlife Trust has remained strongly opposed to the scheme, saying that the process could run the risk of spreading bovine tuberculosis (bTB) further, rather than controlling it.

They believe the disturbance of badgers through culling could find infected animals spreading away from the cull areas, potentially taking disease into currently ‘clean’ zones, known as the ‘perturbation’ effect.

The conservation charity has been spearheading an alternative badger vaccination scheme in Cheshire since October 2012.

A Natural England spokesman said: "There is no realistic prospect of the cull removing the number of badgers required by the licence, it has been discussed and agreed by Natural England that the cull will end."

Richard Gardner, from the Cheshire Wildlife Trust said: “We are relieved to see the end of these disastrous trials whose simple aim was to test a method of badger removal to aid a reduction in bTB in livestock herds.

“Instead, we’ve had weeks of an expensive, ill-conceived and distressing process where a lack of understanding of badger ecology and ignoring the majority scientific community has found ministers clutching at straws, when the focus should be on finding a long-term solution for those in the farming community.

“Now is the time to start putting meaningful investment into other options on the table such as badger vaccination, and not relinquish efforts to bring forward a cattle vaccine and the research and development into an oral bait badger vaccine.”

The Cheshire Wildlife Trust has already urged local authorities in Cheshire to back vaccination as an alternative to the future roll-out of a cull, and is working with other local support groups to expand the badger vaccinating capacity in the region.

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