Successful British badger vaccination

This video from Britain is called Project to Vaccinate Badger – One Show 22 Aug 2011.

From Wildlife Extra:

Successful start to badger vaccination in Cheshire

12 badgers vaccinated

October 2012. Cheshire Wildlife Trust has described its first badger bovine tuberculosis (bTB) vaccination deployment as ‘extremely successful’ after a two-day programme was undertaken at its Bickley Hall Farm headquarters.

A total of 19 badgers were captured in ‘live traps’ across two separate dawn sessions, with 12 badgers vaccinated with the BCG vaccine and the remaining 7 badgers recorded as ‘re-captures’ on the second morning.

The five-year vaccination strategy taken on by the charity will initially focus on Trust-managed sites and will expand to other private land in the area over the next four years.

Speaking after the final badger had been released, Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s Richard Gardner said: “We’re delighted with the result over the last 48 hours, most importantly with our trapping and re-capture rates.

“The overall total of a dozen individuals treated and the seven re-captures suggests we’ve hit our target of around 75% of the badger population on this location. This will, of course, be bolstered by a continuing year-on-year vaccination for another four years which, in spring may include badger cubs too.”

The deployment of the vaccine, supported by Chester Zoo and undertaken in partnership with Shropshire Wildlife Trust and volunteers from the Wirral & Cheshire Badger Group, is the most northerly programme of badger bTB vaccination to date.

The scheme follows the announcement by Defra week to issue a second ‘free-shoot’ culling licence in the south west of England, where bTB in cattle is most prevalent.

In-depth monitoring

The strategy involves in-depth monitoring of badger setts and ‘runs’ across each site, and a two-week preparatory period of ‘pre-baiting’ to allow badgers to become accustomed to the trapping equipment.

In contrast to the Government’s present culling trial in the south west, the Wildlife Trusts believe that a natural barrier of ‘herd immunity’ in local badger populations can be created, forming a firewall to potentially stop a northerly spread of bTB.

Richard Gardner added: “As someone who works with farmers daily, the scepticism over capture rates and effectiveness was high on the list of my own concerns, however this initial deployment has shown that with hard work and careful research we can achieve the necessary numbers.

“We’re already aware of a number of local farmers who would like to see vaccination take place on their land in 2013, and we’ll be working hard to make sure that happens over the coming months.”

Sarah Bird, Biodiversity Officer from Chester Zoo, who have backed the scheme with £6,000 worth of equipment and expertise said: “Chester Zoo supports wildlife conservation programmes all around the world, working on human-wildlife conflict in many places.

“In India we are working to protect crops from elephants and in South America we are studying jaguar predation on cattle. Here in the UK, while we acknowledge the problem of bTB and that wildlife plays a role, by supporting this project we’re encouraging development of disease control techniques that protect badgers.”

Along with increased bio-security and improvements to cattle movement monitoring, the Wildlife Trusts say that vaccination offers an alternative to culling as a method of tackling bTB as the scheme minimises movements between badger populations, a process that has been proven to occur with culling – the so-called ‘perturbation’ effect.

Badgers receiving the BCG vaccine are trapped overnight with a small quantity of peanuts, before receiving an injection at sunrise. All badgers are released within 3 hours of first light to minimise time within the trapping equipment. Any vaccinated badgers are marked with a spray and given a small fur clip to ensure they are not vaccinated again on the second day. Vaccination does not take place between November-May, when badger movements are at a minimum and cubs are being born. Traps are set specifically with badger release mechanisms to ensure other wildlife is not captured. The number of traps deployed at each site is based on an assessment of likely badger numbers given the number of setts and average occupancy.

Humane Society International/UK Report: Badger Cull Cruelty In The Killing Fields: here.

11 thoughts on “Successful British badger vaccination

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