Information about running a vaccination campaign for Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme applicants, including training and equipment you need.
To successfully apply for BEVS funding you will need to show you are capable of running an effective badger vaccination campaign for 4 years. This guide explains how much time and resources you’ll need to commit to a campaign. It doesn’t replace the training that you will need to take if you do decide to run a campaign.
You should also discuss your proposed campaign with both the Defra TB team and your local Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories office. They can offer advice to help you with your application and provide details of:
- existing vaccination campaigns in your area you may want to work with
- other groups with experience of running vaccination campaigns
Requirements before you start a badger vaccination campaign
Before starting a badger vaccination campaign anyone taking part must:
- complete training in sett surveying, cage trapping or vaccination, depending on which activity they will be carrying out
- apply for a licence to vaccinate badgers from Natural England
The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) is currently the only training provider. You won’t be able to get a prescription for BadgerBCG vaccine until you are trained and licensed.
You will also need to:
- have agreements in place giving you access to land where you plan to vaccinate (contact the TB team at Defra to see a model land access agreement that has been drafted in consultation with the National Farmers’ Union)
- take out insurance (eg to indemnify landowners in respect of any aspect of the vaccination campaign)
It will be your responsibility to ensure volunteers can work on farms safely.
If your vaccination campaign is funded by BEVS, any individuals going on to farms must complete a farm awareness course. Providers of farm awareness training will be listed in this guide soon and you can contact the TB team at Defra if you want to design your own course.
What is involved in a badger vaccination campaign
It’s illegal to trap badgers for the purpose of vaccination between December 1 and April 30 so your campaign must take place between May and November.
Gathering information about badger activity in your vaccination area
In advance of your campaign you will need to carry out a detailed survey of the area you intend to vaccinate to identify setts and other signs of badger activity, like runs and latrines. This is usually best done during winter months, when there is less vegetation than in spring or summer.
You will have to conduct another survey immediately before you start vaccinating, to check whether badger activity in the area has changed since the initial survey.
You will need to lay traps close to any badger sett in your area that shows signs of badgers currently living in it.
You will need to pre-bait the traps daily for approximately a week before you actually trap badgers. Pre-baiting involves putting bait in your traps while keeping them locked open so animals become used to taking the bait.
During the week of pre-baiting you will need to monitor how much bait is being taken and consider adding a bait enhancer (eg maple syrup) if badgers aren’t eating the bait.
Trapping badgers for vaccination
When you are confident that the traps are being regularly visited by badgers and the bait is being taken, set the traps.
Set the traps in the afternoon or evening to minimise the time badgers will be trapped. Set each trap for at least 2 consecutive nights.
Return to each trap early the next morning (generally within 3 hours of first light) to check on the animals you have caught. Badgers are a protected species, and you are responsible for the welfare of any animals you trap.
On the way to checking the traps, collect some BadgerBGC vaccine, which you need to store in a fridge. Use a portable fridge to transport it to the traps.
Carefully record how you use the vaccine during your campaign, and return any that is unused.
Vaccination will require at least 2 people for each trap. Depending on the size of your trapping operation, you may require several teams of 2 people to make sure you can check all your traps early in the morning.
Plan your trap rounds to make sure that there aren’t too many trapped badgers to deal with on any given morning.
You will need to release badgers after vaccinating them unless they appear ill or injured, in which case you will need to inform your nearest AHVLA office.
You will also need to inform AHVLA of any dead badgers and send them for inspection of requested.
You will have to remove all trace of your activity from the land once you have finished vaccinating including your equipment.
You will need to thoroughly clean and disinfect equipment between uses.
Equipment you will need
For trapping you are likely to need:
- spare trigger bars and flaps
- holding cages
- carrying handles for the cages
- 6-pronged restraining wickets to hold badgers in the traps
- karabiners to secure the end of a holding cage in case the badger has to be removed from site to be seen by a vet
- stock marker spray to mark badgers which have been vaccinated
- curved scissors to remove hair from the badgers to prepare them for vaccination
- bait (generally animal grade peanuts)
- a non-meat bait enhancer (eg maple syrup)
- containers to carry bait and bait enhancer
To store and administer vaccine you are likely to need:
- a fridge that can maintain a temperature between 2°C and 8°C
- a portable fridge with mains and car power cables
- a thermometer to check temperature
- Leur Lok syringes
- a snap lock or similar lockable container for needles and syringes (eg a Pelicase)
- a container to store used vials
- a Sharps disposal bin
Records you need to keep
You will need to keep thorough records during a vaccination campaign. The forms you’ll need to fill in are included in this section.
For every sett that you find you will need to complete asett survey form, describing the location and details of the sett.
Each time you set traps you will have to complete:
- sett check form, describing details of the sett targeted and the traps used
- cage trapping and welfare assessment form, describing details of any animals caught in each trap and how you treat them
For any badger carcass you find that AHVLA tells you to send for post mortem you need to completebadger carcass submission form.
To keep track of the BadgerBCG vaccine that you use, you will have to complete:
- BadgerBCG order form, every time you order vaccine
- BadgerBCG tracking form, every time you use vaccine to record how much you use and how much you return to cold storage
- BadgerBCG disposal form, every time you dispose of vaccine to record how much you dispose of and why you disposed of it
- refrigerator temperature record chart, to record temperature daily for each fridge where you store vaccine
- portable refrigerator temperature record chart, to record temperature at the start and end of journeys for each portable fridge that you store vaccine in
For any badgers that you believe are reacting adversely to the vaccine you will need to complete form.
You will also need to keep a copy of the prescription for BadgerBGC vaccine that you obtained from a vet.
These forms must be made available for inspection on request. They will be audited and should normally be kept for 5 years.