Derbyshire Wildlife Trust Invites Michael Gove to visit Badger Vaccination Project

Beautiful badgers, Elliott Neep 

We are deeply alarmed about the intentions of Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, following his recent announcement to launch a consultation on whether to remove a cap which limits new areas of the country where the killing of badgers is allowed as part of the Government’s strategy to deal with the crisis of bovine TB in cattle.

We are deeply alarmed about the intentions of Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, following his recent announcement to launch a consultation on whether to remove a cap which limits new areas of the country where the killing of badgers is allowed as part of the Government’s strategy to deal with the crisis of bovine TB in cattle.

We feel this is the wrong type of consultation. This is because it assumes that badgers are the key cause of the spread of bovine TB and there is no scientific evidence to support this.

We argue that in the face of an increase in the number of cows infected with bovine TB this is a kneejerk reaction which makes no sense scientifically. We argue that what is needed instead is an approach where sustainable long term solutions to this problem are developed. For example expanding the vaccination of badgers in what are deemed ‘Edge’ and ‘Low Risk’ areas for bovine TB across the country makes clear sense. This will help establish healthy populations of badgers.

We have shown that vaccination of badgers working with landowners, farmers, the National Trust and a huge army of volunteers is working.
Tim Birch
Head of Living Landscapes North, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

Tim Birch, our Head of Living Landscapes North said, “Culling badgers in Low Risk areas for example in the North, East and South East of England where we know the incidence of bovine TB in badgers is extremely low or non-existent, risks seriously disrupting stable badger populations. It could actually assist the disease spreading where badgers with the disease from outside these areas move into areas where badgers have been removed. It is totally unacceptable for the Government to target a wildlife species for wholescale slaughter in this way when alternative strategies are available.”

“We have shown that vaccination of badgers working with landowners, farmers, the National Trust and a huge army of volunteers is working and we are leading the way nationally with our vaccination programme. The Government is actually helping fund this programme and have just granted £181,906.76 for vaccination to continue in Derbyshire for the next four years. If the Government is genuine in its concerns about the environment and animal welfare then it should be implementing a wide scale vaccination programme of badgers across England not shooting them. We invite Michael Gove to come and visit our vaccination project and see for himself how it is working. It is a clear alternative to shooting badgers.”

Our results following four years of vaccinating badgers

Our badger vaccination programme has been running since 2013 when public outrage at the badger cull resulted in £54,000 being donated to the Trust by the general public. The first round of badger vaccinations taking place in June 2014. Since then the Trust’s vaccination project has shown the following results:

  • The cost of vaccinating one badger is approximately £82 compared to over £6,000 to shoot one badger as part of the cull.
  • Become the largest vaccination programme now in the UK and is recognised as leading the field nationally on badger vaccination.
  • Vaccinated 286 badgers across Derbyshire, predominantly in the Edale valley in the North since the vaccination programme began in 2014 (no badgers were vaccinated in 2016 as there was no vaccine available).
  • Vaccinated over 30 km2 of land predominantly in North Derbyshire where 25 landowners are signed up to the project.
  • This new programme will increase our area of vaccination from 29 km2 to nearly 90 km2.
  • Worked with over 80 dedicated volunteers to help deliver the programme.
  • Has 8 trained lay vaccinators who can legally vaccinate badgers.

We have just recently announced that the badger vaccination programme is now able to continue for another 4 years.

This has been made possible thanks to generous funding from several sources, £80,000 from National Trust, £4,000 from the High Peak Derbyshire Badger Group, £40,000 from Derbyshire Wildlife Trust itself, all topped up by £181,906.76 funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) which has just been confirmed. 

How you can help

This important work takes a great deal of our time and resources. Thanks to donations received so far, we have been able to train a team of vaccinators and other volunteers to support the vaccination programme.

Please continue to give to this appeal. The more money we raise, the more we can do to help protect Derbyshire’s badgers and fight the scourge of bovine TB.

Thank you

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