Badger vaccination plan offer to farms

Elizabeth James, right, and the Dorset Mammal Group protesting about badger culling in Dorchester

Elizabeth James, right, and the Dorset Mammal Group protesting about badger culling in Dorchester

First published in News Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Photograph of the Author by

Badger groups are offering farmers a lifeline in their fight against TB – by offering to vaccinate badgers.
Dorset farmers have said they feel ‘hopeless’ after the government announced its controversial badger cull would remain only in Gloucester and Somerset and not be rolled out to neighbouring counties.
But Elizabeth James of the Dorset Badger Vaccination Project said their volunteers were offering a solution to vaccinate badgers – and were willing to be considerably out of pocket to do so. She said the group started training volunteers last November.
She said: “What we do is not all that well known, which is a shame because it is a viable alternative. Some farmers are never going to come round to the idea but we are absolutely inundated with requests.”
Ian Mortimer is one of the volunteers who has paid hundreds of pounds for the training to be a licensed vaccinator. 
He will also have to pay annually to be licensed.
He said he wanted to do it to help farmers and because he believes culling badgers to get rid of TB is unscientific.
He said: “When 10 years of British science comes out with the conclusion that killing badgers will make no meaningful difference to the incidence of bovine TB then only complete fools, like the NFU, wouldn’t listen.
“I do get very angry about it.
“Farmers are talked about as though they are some great homogenous blob, as though they are all in favour of killing badgers – it simply isn’t true.”
So far 60 badgers have been vaccinated on seven farms. 
But some farmers are not convinced it will help. Kevin Wallbridge, a farmer from Hooke whose closed herd has been hit by TB, said: “The trouble with vaccinations as I understand it is it only works on clean badgers so you have to be in a clean area. You can’t check the badger before you vaccinate it.
“In a clean area I think it could work but not in most of Dorset now, which is not clean.
“As I see it I don’t think it is viable. No one has explained to me how you vaccinate all the badgers.
“If you could identify the setts where they have TB and destroy those and vaccinate the clean ones then it could work.”
But Mr Mortimer said if infected badgers were vaccinated they were far less infectious.

 

Comments (2)

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5:34pm Thu 4 Sep 14

Spectrum says...

Dorset farmers say they feel "hopeless" because local badgers aren't going to be culled. But I wonder how many of these same farmers have put in place much-needed biosecurity (disease prevention) measures? How many believe (despite very clear evidence to the contrary) that because their herd tested clear last time that meant there was no undetected disease in those herds? The skin test is, after all, only 75-80 per cent reliable). And I wonder, too, how many have restocked in the past few years with cattle from herds with a very poor bovine TB history? Truth is far too many farmers--urged on by the relentless anti-badger propaganda emanating from the NFU--choose to ignore the clear evidence, notably from Wales which has reduced bTB by 50 per cent in five years without killing badgers, that the real underlying cause of bovine TB spread is cattle-to-cattle transmission (not badger to cattle transmission). The evidence is there for all to see. It is overwhelming; independent scientists are as one in declaring that cattle and farming methods, not badgers, are the root cause of this disease which was prevalent in our dairy herds before world war 2. If every badger in the country was slaughtered bovine TB would still be a major problem. Massive culls will, on Defra's own (admittedly dodgy) predictions, reduce bTB by a mere 12-16 per cent over NINE years and that assumes a much higher killing rate than so far achieved. Again Defra predicts it will take 25 years to eradicate (if that is indeed possible) this disease. Badger culls are no panacea. Far from it. But vaccination schemes will help to minimise the possibility of badger-to-cattle transmission by reducing the already relatively small number of infected b adgers. By contrast culling--which its total indiscriminate-- could make matters worse through perturbation. We all understand the impact of this disease on farmers and their families. Blaming the wrong culprit simply delays the day when it will be controlled.
Dorset farmers say they feel "hopeless" because local badgers aren't going to be culled. But I wonder how many of these same farmers have put in place much-needed biosecurity (disease prevention) measures? How many believe (despite very clear evidence to the contrary) that because their herd tested clear last time that meant there was no undetected disease in those herds? The skin test is, after all, only 75-80 per cent reliable). And I wonder, too, how many have restocked in the past few years with cattle from herds with a very poor bovine TB history? Truth is far too many farmers--urged on by the relentless anti-badger propaganda emanating from the NFU--choose to ignore the clear evidence, notably from Wales which has reduced bTB by 50 per cent in five years without killing badgers, that the real underlying cause of bovine TB spread is cattle-to-cattle transmission (not badger to cattle transmission). The evidence is there for all to see. It is overwhelming; independent scientists are as one in declaring that cattle and farming methods, not badgers, are the root cause of this disease which was prevalent in our dairy herds before world war 2. If every badger in the country was slaughtered bovine TB would still be a major problem. Massive culls will, on Defra's own (admittedly dodgy) predictions, reduce bTB by a mere 12-16 per cent over NINE years and that assumes a much higher killing rate than so far achieved. Again Defra predicts it will take 25 years to eradicate (if that is indeed possible) this disease. Badger culls are no panacea. Far from it. But vaccination schemes will help to minimise the possibility of badger-to-cattle transmission by reducing the already relatively small number of infected b adgers. By contrast culling--which its total indiscriminate-- could make matters worse through perturbation. We all understand the impact of this disease on farmers and their families. Blaming the wrong culprit simply delays the day when it will be controlled. Spectrum
  • Score: 9

7:40pm Fri 5 Sep 14

Time_Traveller says...

Surely if the farmers of Dorset are THAT bothered by the lack of cull - vaccination in the meantime is worth doing - rather than sit around wringing their hands doing nothing for another year in the hope that the cull will come to their farm next year?

It's no good moaning and doing NOTHING, so get VACCINATING NOW and see how your herd is doing next year. Who knows, you might even change your minds about culling our beautiful badgers ......
Surely if the farmers of Dorset are THAT bothered by the lack of cull - vaccination in the meantime is worth doing - rather than sit around wringing their hands doing nothing for another year in the hope that the cull will come to their farm next year? It's no good moaning and doing NOTHING, so get VACCINATING NOW and see how your herd is doing next year. Who knows, you might even change your minds about culling our beautiful badgers ...... Time_Traveller
  • Score: 3
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