The Welsh Assembly government began their badger TB vaccination campaign last Monday (11th June) and in its first week hundreds of badgers have received their jab. The vaccination programme was started after the government rejected calls for a widespread badger cull.
The badger vaccination programme is taking place across Pembrokeshire in an effort to determine if vaccinating badgers can bring down or halt the transmission of TB to cattle. The programme is being undertaken in an Intensive Action Area where Bovine TB is a real problem for farmers. [pullquote]Our decision to pursue a vaccination programme has enabled us to take quick and decisive action aimed at developing a degree of immunity to TB within the badger population. We believe that this will reduce the risk of TB transmission from badgers to cattle. [/pullquote]
As of the end of last week the programme had vaccinated over 275 badgers. Each of the badgers had to be caught and hand vaccinated by specially trained people.
Environment Minister, John Griffiths, announced, “Our Strategic Framework for Bovine TB Eradication acknowledges that we must deal with all sources of Bovine TB, including wildlife, if we are going to achieve our goal of eradicating this debilitating disease.
“I am pleased that following my March decision to vaccinate badgers we have been able to move very swiftly and have now begun rolling out our vaccination programme in the Intensive Action Area.
“Our decision to pursue a vaccination programme has enabled us to take quick and decisive action aimed at developing a degree of immunity to TB within the badger population. We believe that this will reduce the risk of TB transmission from badgers to cattle.
“I would like to thank farmers and landowners for their co-operation. We will be monitoring the results of vaccination, and of our whole eradication programme, carefully to ensure we are making good progress towards our ultimate goal of a TB free Wales.”
The area covered by the North Pembrokeshire Intensive Action Area covers an area of 288 km2 and takes in parts of Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire.
The move follows the decision to scrap the proposed cull after Labour won complete control of the Assembly government and no longer need the support of Plaid. The new Environment Minister believes that the science supports the option for vaccination over culling.
Wales has one of the highest incidences of bovine TB in Europe. The cost of the proposed vaccination programme in North Pembrokeshire has been estimated at £5.7 million a little under a million pounds more than the estimated cost of a cull at £4.9 million.
The badger TB vaccination programme is expected to continue until the early autumn.