A STAFFORDSHIRE charity has started vaccinating badgers to cut the risk of cattle developing bovine tuberculosis.
Earlier this week a badger cull in Somerset was extended to November 1, but in this county another pilot programme has started.
Staffordshire Wildlife Trust has launched a five-year programme to vaccinate badgers living on two of its nature reserves.
A fundraising campaign to net £25,000 for the programme began earlier this year and the appeal has almost reached its halfway mark, with just over £12,000 raised.
The charity opposes the culling of badgers. It intends to reduce the risk of badger to cattle transmission of bTB and show that until cattle vaccination becomes available badger vaccination is currently the only non-lethal way of tackling the disease.
It said independent research shows that culling the animals could cause the disease to spread more widely. And a cull will result in territorial boundaries being disturbed which will lead to increased movement of badgers.
Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s head of living landscapes Dr Sue Lawley said: “Bovine TB causes huge economic hardship and distress to the farming community and we are very conscious that of the need to find the right mechanisms to control the disease. However, we believe that a badger cull is not the answer, and that the development and deployment of a cattle vaccine is the long term solution to bTB.
“The Wildlife Trusts have been lobbying the European Commission to change regulation relating to cattle vaccination, but until a cattle vaccination becomes available we believe that next best step is to vaccinate badgers against the disease.”