A new badger vaccination scheme has been launched today as part of the government’s comprehensive strategy to make England bovine TB free.
The Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme (BEVS) will support badger vaccination projects in areas outside the bovine TB high risk area. The edge area covers counties in the middle of the country such as Cheshire, Oxfordshire and Hampshire. These edge areas are most at risk of the disease spreading from the South West and West Midlands.
Vaccinating healthy badgers in this way is intended to help create a buffer zone of healthy badger populations to help curb the spread of TB in cattle.
The BEVS package of support includes a funding award of up to 50% of long term costs for vaccinating, vaccination advice from field experts, free loans of equipment such as traps, and free vaccine supply. Eligible vaccination projects need to be predominantly in the edge area, and will be required to cover a minimum area of approximately 15km2.
This vaccination scheme is just one element of our comprehensive strategy to achieve bovine TB free status in England by 2038. This includes strict cattle movement controls and also culling in areas where the disease is rife, which overseas experience shows is vital to beating the disease.
Farming Minister George Eustice said:
Bovine TB continues to be a huge threat to our beef and dairy farmers, our economy and our food security, which is why we are pursuing a comprehensive strategy to beat it. As part of this, I want to see vaccination groups come together, building on prior experience to deliver badger vaccination in the edge area. This could be an important part of our collective efforts, to prevent the spread of this terrible disease in cattle to new areas of the country.
Nigel Gibbens, UK Chief Veterinary Officer said:
I would urge groups to take advantage of this vaccination offer and join in with this important effort to halt the disease spreading throughout England. We know vaccination cannot cure badgers already carrying TB, but used in the right areas, it can play a vital role in creating a barrier to the disease’s spread.
As part of this comprehensive approach we have already introduced a number of measures, including:
- tighter cattle controls to reduce bovine TB spread between herds
- tougher financial penalties for those who are late in completing their TB cattle tests, resulting in up to a 60% fall in the number of overdue tests
- designing field trials to help develop a cattle vaccine
- better advice to farmers who are buying and selling cattle
- badger culling in two areas within the high risk area