Warwickshire badgers vaccinated ahead of potential cull coming to the county

Thursday 9th August 2018

Paul Bunyard Warwickshire Badger Group

BADGERS at three sites across Warwickshire--one of them a Warwickshire Wildlife Trust reserve-- have been vaccinated in co-operative projects involving two of the county’s like-minded conservation groups.

Warwickshire Badger Group (WBG) have one of the country's most experienced, accredited vaccinators in Steve Hawkes, from Whitnash, and with support from Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, he has completed two successful vaccinations projects on land near Stratford upon Avon. 

The third project was completed near Rugby, with Steve working solo, often in near darkness just before dawn.

All three projects involved detailed and lengthy preparation--to entice badgers into humane traps containing peanut food. There they were injected with Defra-approved vaccine and marked with a streak of non-toxic dye to ensure they were vaccinated only once. All are then released safely back to the wild.
Badgers are susceptible to bovine TB, an acute respiratory disease primarily transmitted by cattle to cattle. Vaccination gives a high degree of protection, both to adult badgers and to cubs born to vaccinated sows, and it also reduces the small risk that a badger could become infectious and pass the disease back to cattle. Cattle which test positive for the disease have to be slaughtered.

"The work we're doing benefits both badgers and cattle, and we have another project scheduled near Kineton", explains WBG chair Denise Taylor.
"Our vaccination work started in 2011 and we want to do more, as do Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. We are both utterly opposed to badger culling, which we see as unscientific, unproven and a costly waste of taxpayers' money and we are alarmed that the Government's hotly opposed and highly contentious culls could be extended this year to our county.

"That would be a travesty, for we know Warwickshire's badgers are virtually free of bovine disease, a fact effectively confirmed by the Defra-sponsored road-kill survey that we and the Trust actively supported last year. Only a handful of the 100 carcases examined showed any sign of the disease and none had reached the infectious stage."

Warwickshire Wildlife Trust's Karl Curtis, Director of Reserves and Community Engagement, said: "Warwickshire Wildlife Trust are opposed to the government's culling programme and are concerned that it may come to Warwickshire. Therefore we will continue to promote and use vaccination as one of a suite of non-lethal tools to tackle bovine TB. We are very grateful for the work Steve Hawkes has done in taking on this project, with support from our dedicated Warwickshire Wildlife Trust volunteer, Peter Cook."

The vaccination work being carried out by the two groups is done almost exclusively by volunteers and the only cost to landowners is the price of the vaccines, which is far less costly than culling.

Find out more about the Warwickshire Badger Group on their website www.warwickshirebadgergroup.co.uk/

Tagged with: Badger, Cull, Vaccination