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Government report confirms badger vaccination is working and a year break will not result in any increase in TB in badgers

The Badger Trust has welcomed a report by the Animal & Plant Health Agency for the Welsh Government on the success of its badger vaccination project.

The report was commissioned after the decision by the Welsh Government to temporarily halt badger vaccination due to a global shortage of BCG TB vaccine. The work was performed in order to determine the most likely effects of not using the BCG vaccine for badgers in 2016, after successfully using the trap and inject approach with BCG for 4 years between 2011 and 2015.

The analysis simulated a variety of different badger vaccination strategies to manage bovine TB within the Intensive Action Area in Wales. It used a current badger and cattle bTB model that has been repeatedly peer reviewed and published in the scientific literature used for reporting to DEFRA, Welsh and Northern Ireland Governments.

The report found that 4 years of continuous badger vaccination has substantially reduced the prevalence of TB in badgers and this decline would continue over a ten year period although the benefit of each later year of vaccination was less than in earlier years.

Due to the group immunity effect, a 1 year interruption in badger vaccination in 2016 was not found to result in any increase in the prevalence of TB in badgers.

Commenting on the findings of the report the Chief Executive of the Badger Trust Dominic Dyer said:
“We are delighted to see confirmation that badger vaccination is leading to a substantial reduction in the prevalence of TB in badgers and that any temporary halt while the global stocks of BCG vaccine recover, will not lead to an increase in the spread of the disease in badgers.

I am disappointed to see the Farmers Union of Wales calling for an end to badger vaccination in the Intensive Action Area in Wales on the grounds that the cost of £700 per badger is a ‘waste of public money’, when DEFRA is spending over £7,000 per badger on a disastrous badger cull policy in England, without testing any of the badgers killed for TB.

Badger vaccination is scientifically proven to work and has huge public and political support in England and Wales. It plays a key role in bringing conservation and wildlife protection groups together with farmers and landowners in a spirit of mutual trust and confidence. It’s a perfect example of David Cameron's "Big Society" in action"

The Chairman of the Badger Trust Peter Martin said
"Rather than attack the Welsh Government for vaccinating badgers against TB, the Farmers Union of Wales should be celebrating its success. They should be calling on DEFRA and the NFU in England to follow the Welsh example of reducing bovine TB by focusing on improved cattle testing and movement controls. New incidents of bovine TB in cattle are now down by 28% in Wales with a 45% cut in the number of cattle being slaughtered. This now leaves 94% of the Welsh herd TB free, without killing any badgers.”

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