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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Badger vaccination programmes to start in England

Yesterday's Guardian reports that Government-backed badger vaccination programmes aimed at tackling the spread of tuberculosis in cattle are set to be rolled out in England.
The paper says that this move is seen by opponents as the “beginning of the end” of the controversial badger culls:

Farming minister George Eustice met wildlife and farming groups on Tuesday to discuss how they could set up the new badger vaccination programmes and offered to provide vaccines, cages, training and four years of matched funding.

The projects will target the edges of TB hotspots, such as the south-west, in order to create buffer zones of badger immunity and prevent TB from spreading. The edge areas run from Hampshire to Oxfordshire to Nottinghamshire and up to Cheshire. More than 26,000 TB-infected cattle were slaughtered in 2013.

Eustice told the Guardian: “Bovine TB is devastating our dairy and cattle industry and is continuing to spread across the country. There is a badger vaccine available which could have a big role in helping to prevent the spread of bovine TB to new areas of the country.”

He added: “If we can encourage groups to take up our offer and develop widespread vaccination projects, it could go a long way to preventing bovine TB spreading any further, and mean we can concentrate on driving back the disease in areas where it is rife.”
Ministers have also been tightening restrictions on the movement of cattle since the start of 2013 and the latest data suggests TB infections in cattle are falling as a result.

This is very welcome news after the disastrous, misconceived and badly executed culls in England. Does it show that UK Ministers are coming to their senses at last? We will see.
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