There is no evidence that vaccinating TB-infected badgers will have any positive effect or improvement in either badger or cattle TB levels, the National Beef Association (NBA) has said.
The association’s TB committee suggested farmers needed to think ‘very carefully’ before signing up to TB vaccination projects and said vaccination should only be used to create cordon sanitaires in areas before the disease reaches it.
It comes after experts speaking to Farmers Guardian for a recent in-depth analysis on the subject (FG, March 22) warned of the dangers of pursuing a vaccination-only policy. Wildlife groups and organisations, such as the National Trust, would like to see badger vaccination replace the badger cull.
Farmers are being encouraged to sign up for and contribute to a range of vaccination projects.
NBA TB committee chairman Bill Harper said there would be no definite improvement in either badger or cattle TB levels in the high-risk area where badgers were carrying a level of disease if a vaccination project took place.
Badger trapping projects had also shown to catch only 30 to 40 per cent of the population, with 30 culling areas trapping just half of the 70 per cent badger population – and the remaining badgers dispatched by rifle.
“Even in an area with no TB, the level of cover, with just 35 per cent of the population vaccinated, would be questionable,” Mr Harper said.
“There is also the moot point of the cost of trapping and vaccinating.
“There have been suggestions that some wildlife trusts would get involved, but there is no clear commitment over the necessary minimum four years.”
Mr Harper also highlighted research from the Royal Agricultural University, which said the effectiveness of badger culling depended on how well it was implemented.
He said more research was needed and called for a national conference to assess recent details and trends. The industry could then learn ‘and amend the applications to get the best results’.