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Trust urges Government not to cull badgers it has already vaccinated - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust

Chris Tufnell of Coach House Vets vaccinating a badger at a BBOWT reserve. Picture: Julia Lofthouse
Chris Tufnell of Coach House Vets vaccinating a badger at a BBOWT reserve. Picture: Julia Lofthouse

BBOWT is urging the Government to speed up its promised transition from badger culling to vaccination, and not slaughter animals that the Trust has already vaccinated.

The Government announced last month that it was issuing seven new licences for badger culling across England, including in Berkshire and Oxfordshire, in an attempt to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB).

That is despite more than 40,000 people responding to a Government consultation at the start of this year urging it to stop issuing licences and prioritise vaccination instead.

The licences were also issued regardless of the fact that BBOWT has been running a highly successful badger vaccination programme in the area since 2014 and has inoculated hundreds of badgers - many of which could now be pointlessly killed. Over the past seven years, BBOWT has vaccinated badgers over a 20km2 area covering its own nature reserves, council land, farms and private estates.

The Government has already said that it will stop allowing culling from 2025 and instead push for vaccination of badgers and cattle in a drive to eradicate bTB in England by 2038. Now BBOWT and the 45 other local conservation charities that make up The Wildlife Trusts are calling on the Government to simply achieve its own ambition sooner.

Julia Lofthouse, BBOWT Mammal Project Manager, said: "The current situation is absurd: over the past seven years, BBOWT has successfully vaccinated hundreds of badgers, protecting them from bTB and preventing them from passing the disease onto cattle. What's more, our results have proven this is a much more humane way to tackle bTB than culling - and is also at least 60 times cheaper per badger. "We aren't even asking the Government to change its policy - we are saying its ambition to move from culling to vaccination is completely right. In fact, we think it's such a good idea we are asking them to start doing it right now, instead of carrying on with a hugely unpopular, needlessly expensive and inhumane slaughter."

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