NFA has responded to calls from MPs and farmers to implement effective alternatives to culling badgers by sponsoring another badger vaccination project in one of the South West’s cattle TB (bTB) hotspots.
MPs in the House of Commons recently voted overwhelming to abort the proposed misguided cull of badgers in favour of effective alternatives for controlling the disease. Although the vote is not binding, Defra have delayed the cull until next summer, allowing time for alternative measures to be implemented and tested. The badger cull was intended to take place in two pilot areas of West Somerset and West Gloucestershire before being rolled out across the country, despite the fact that extensive evidence from a ten-year study of badger culling suggested that this method would only provide a 12-16% reduction in bTB in a best case scenario. The study, led by one of the country’s leading zoologists, Lord Krebs, came at a cost of nearly £50million to the English taxpayer and revealed that culling badgers could ultimately contribute to the spread of the disease.
Improved cattle welfare, more effective biosecurity and cattle vaccination are the proposed humane alternatives to the badger cull, with badger vaccination serving as an immediate short-term solution. NFA has previously co-sponsored a badger vaccination project in the Somerset cull zone and has supported the work of Bob Speechley of Cornwall Badger Rescue in St Ives, the only FERA certified badger vaccinator in Cornwall, since spring 2011. The recent donation of £2500 will help realise the prospect of optional badger vaccination for landowners in the region.
The latest donation from NFA comes in response to the call from West Cornwall MP Andrew George for the wider community to invest in tackling bTB rather than waiting for the Government to solve the problem. In recent weeks Cornwall Badger Rescue has received fresh interest in badger vaccination and a landowner who recently had her badgers vaccinated, Carla Rands, has offered to undertake FERA training in the new year to help meet demand.
Bob Speechley says, “If we start killing badgers to solve problems like this, what are we going to kill next? A cull is not the most sustainable solution. Vaccination of both badgers and cattle is.”
Explaining NFA’s support of the project, Founder Brian Davies says, “We want badger vaccination to be an affordable and accessible alternative to culling badgers, which is why we have pledged our support to a number of badger vaccination projects. Until the Government put their money where their mouth is and commit to effective and humane approaches to tackling bTB, we will do what we can to support those who don’t want blood on their hands.”