Badger vaccination

Help us vaccinate more badgers

Beautiful badgers, Elliott Neep 

204 badgers vaccinated in 2020
100 project volunteers
Nationally recognised programme
20 badger vaccinators
We are firmly opposed to the badger cull and will not allow culling on our land.
Jo Smith, CEO
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

Our Badger Vaccination Programme - background

To control the spread of bovine TB in cattle across England. The theory behind the cull is that wild badger populations act as a reservoir for bovine TB and that killing badgers will prevent the spread of the disease.

We believe that there is no strong evidence that the cull has had any significant impact on decreasing the levels of bovine TB in cattle. Indeed, culling may even cause the spread of infected badgers.

In 2013 three vaccinators were trained and a public appeal was launched. Strong support for this appeal resulted in £54,000 being raised and in 2014 badger vaccination began in Derbyshire. 18 vaccinators have been trained to work across Derbyshire and the trapping success rate of badgers is running at over 80% of the animals known to be present.

The scheme is now the largest vaccination programme in the UK and the programme now works closely with the Government to help train vaccinators from across the country.

In 2019, Derbyshire was named as one of 14 counties that the badger cull could be extended to. Thanks to public support from over 7,000 people, who campaigned to their local MPs, the cull was postponed in Derbyshire. Sadly, in 2020 the cull did come and almost 3,000 badgers were killed in our county alone. But we're still fighting - let's see what 2021 brings. 

Let us tell you more:

Consultation on Bovine tuberculosis and possible future measures to accelerate disease eradication in England

In April 2021, the Government called for views on a Consultation paper on Bovine tuberculosis and possible future measures to accelerate disease eradication in England. Here's our response. 

Badger cull license consultation 2021

The start of 2021 saw the Government launch a consultation to discuss when they should stop issuing cull licences. They suggested 2022. We have called for an end to them now. This is because if licences were to continue until 2022, each last four years so badger culling would remain until the end of 2025. 

Over 37,000 campaigned with us and responded to the Government consultation. Thank you! We are now awaiting the results, which could take up to eight weeks. 

To date, over 140,000 badgers have been culled. The proposals recently announced by the Government as part of a consultation process will result in approximately another 130,000 badgers being killed, taking the total to almost 300,000. The total badger population in England and Wales was estimated to be around 485,000 in 2017.

2020 Results

Despite Covid restrictions badgers were still vaccinated across Derbyshire in 2020. This was the first year that the badger cull came to Derbyshire so our vaccination work was more important than ever before. 

• 204 badgers were vaccinated in 2020

• We trained another two vaccinators in Derbyshire, bringing the total to 20.

• We battled flash flooding incidents to keep all badgers safe and still continue with out vaccinations. 

• Our trapping success of badgers at targeted badger setts is running at over 80% of the individual animals we know are present

• Vaccinating  badgers is significantly cheaper than shooting them and makes financial sense

• We have developed positive working relationships with a wide variety of organisations including the National Trust, the National Farmers Union, Country Landowners Association, Derbyshire Badger Groups, Derbyshire County Council, British Mountaineering Council and private landowners. This shows that a multi stakeholder partnership approach to vaccinate badgers can work.

• The project has received strong support from Derbyshire Police and the Police Crime Commissioner for Derbyshire

• We sourced our own vaccine from Canada in 2017 when the Government were unable to obtain any supplies of vaccine at all and we were able to continue our vaccination programme when no one else in the country was vaccinating badgers

• We have over 100 volunteers available to work on the vaccination project and they are trained up in sett survey work, pre baiting of traps with peanuts and siting of setts for the trapping of badgers for vaccination. Having such a dedicated group of volunteers has also helped to drive down costs of the project considerably

• We have developed a strong positive working relationship with the Department of Environment and Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) who are deeply impressed by our vaccination programme

• We are by far the largest vaccination programme now in the UK and  we are recognised as leading the field nationally on badger vaccination

• We continue to provide training, support and advice to smaller vaccination projects both new and established in other areas of the country

Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB)

Bovine tuberculosis is a highly infectious disease of cattle which devastates thousands of farming businesses annually. Since the mid-1980s, the incidence of bovine TB in cattle has increased substantially creating an economic burden on the taxpayer and the farming industry, as infected cattle are culled. However badgers form only one small dimension of the ecology of the disease (1). 

Badgers are not the primary cause of the spread of bovine TB in cattle, which is via cow-to-cow contact. These cattle based factors are being increasingly recognised as drivers of the disease, particularly cattle movements and slurry management. (2)

  1. C. Donnelly and P. Nouvellet, “The Contribution of Badgers to Confirmed Tuberculosis in Cattle in High-Incidence Areas in England,” PLoS Currents Outbreaks, vol. 1, doi: 10.1371/currents.outbreaks.097a904d3f3619db2fe78d24bc776098 2013.
  2. review of the government’s 25 Year Bovine TB (bTB) Strategy, led by Sir Charles Godfray,

Derbyshire WT Open Letter to Farmers

Derbyshire Wildlife Trusts has written an open letter to farmers in which they say they have “been poorly served by the unsubstantiated, weak science behind culling”, see here.

The letter adds, “We are very conscious of the hardship that bovine TB causes in the farming community and the need to find the right mechanisms to control the disease. However, we believe that a badger cull is not the answer and have been vaccinating badgers as a positive alternative.”

Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme Derbyshire 2019 Report

This report reflects on the 2019 badger vaccination season, what it means for badgers and wildlife groups both locally and nationally and what the future for badgers looks like.

2019 was a big year for Derbyshire’s badgers. Not only was it the sixth year of badger vaccination across the county, it was also a year that saw the badger cull postponed in this region until May 2020. Thanks to a ground swell of support, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Theresa Villiers, prevented the cull from coming to Derbyshire. Please see more detail in the report below.

Evidence Supporting Badger Cull Is Flawed

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has published a report  which shows that research, produced by the Government’s Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), and used by farmers to justify a cull of badgers in Derbyshire is flawed and inaccurate.

The APHA’s report stated that, in 2018, 77% of new cases of TB in cattle in Derbyshire were caused by badgers - a figure significantly larger than any estimate in the peer reviewed scientific literature for the role of badgers in bovine TB. Derbyshire Wildlife Trust was concerned about the accuracy of the figure and commissioned a report to investigate the claim.

The report’s findings revealed that the APHA’s figures should not be relied upon or used for establishing TB control measures. It shows the methodology used is subjective and biased towards badgers being the cause of a large number of outbreaks of TB in cattle without clear science to support the claim. APHA data also claimed that TB is endemic in badgers in parts of Derbyshire but failed to provide supporting data.

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust campaigned against and successfully avoided the badger cull in 2019. The findings of the report could have implications for cull decisions in the future for Derbyshire and more widely as cull companies submit applications to trap and shoot hundreds of badgers again this Autumn.

Derbyshire Wildlife Trusts says that if the APHA's evidence is used to justify the badger cull later this year it will be based on very poor science. Read the full report here.

Stop The Cull

The UK Government is due to make an announcement of new areas for badger culling this September.

There is great concern that Derbyshire will be among those counties where shooting of badgers will be allowed in an attempt to control the spread of bovine TB in cattle.
In fact a leaked report appears to indicate that the government will approve a badger cull in Derbyshire next month. 

We campaigned last year and with huge public support we successfully pushed back the threat of a cull, but that threat is back and there is a real chance that Derbyshire could be included for the first time. If this happens the badger cull will begin mid-September 2020.

This means we only have days to change the Government’s mind, so we need your support again.

It is vital that we make sure that the badger cull is not extended into Derbyshire.

Over the last six years, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has been running the UK’s largest badger vaccination programme. We’ve been proving that there is a much more humane way to tackle bovine tuberculosis that is also at least 60 times cheaper per badger than culling. The ultimate aim of the project has always been to stop the badger cull coming to the county.

If we don’t manage to change the Government’s mind over the next few day’s then we’ll see the death of thousands of Derbyshire’s badgers over the next few months. We will have failed to save them.

Stop the badger cull coming to Derbyshire

Take Action Now

Managed to secure a meeting with your MP?  We've created a document of talking points for you:


What our MPs say

We've had some responses from our Derbyshire MPs with their views on the badger cull.  You can see what they say by clicking the link below.

Our MP responses

Donate today

Thank you for supporting our badgers

Badger vaccination in Derbyshire has been made possible #Becauseofyou - #Thankyou

The latest news

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



Donate now

Write to your MP

Act now

Become a member

Support us