Unfortunately there is no single, cheap and effective fix. We need short-term measures to manage bTB and substantial investment to find a long-term solution. Eradicating bTB will take many years, working in cooperation with many sectors and groups of people, including farmers, the Government, land owners, scientists and conservation bodies.
The Wildlife Trusts’ badger advisory group submitted a very clear set of responses to the Defra consultation. Tackling the disease should include the following measurers:
- Cattle Vaccination – Accelerate research into cattle vaccination and improve testing regimes for cattle. Cattle vaccination offers the best long-term way to reduce bTB in the cattle population. Complete development of a cattle vaccine as a matter of priority and secure change to EU regulation to permit its commercial deployment.
- Biosecurity – All possible measurers should be pursued to prevent disease transmission on-farm and more research should be carried out into the incidence of bTB within different farming methods. Farmers need to be supported to implement changes.
- Tighter Movement Controls – Reduce cow-to-cow infections - the major cause of TB infection - by reducing the risk of speading disease when cattle are transported.
- Badger Vaccination – Support landowners to use the injectable BadgerBCG vaccine and continue development of an oral badger vaccine. Vaccination projects are currently on hold due to a global shortage. More reliable supply chains need to be developed so suspended vaccination programmes can resume as soon as possible.
We are clear that badgers, whilst a part of the wildlife reservoir of bTB, are not the major source of infection within the national herd (1).
What can you do to help make this happen?
- Respond to the latest Government consultations to introduce culling in Low Risk areas and increase the number of cull zones.
- Email, write or tweet your local MP to ask them to continue to put pressure on the Government to scrap their cull plans and prioritise badger vaccination.
- Ask your MEP to press for the EU ban on a cattle vaccine to be lifted. A cattle vaccine is the long term solution to the bTB problem, but EU rules currently prevent it from being tested and used in this country.
- Become a member. The more members we have, the more effectively we can speak up for wildlife.