Over the next month, 18 farms on the National Trust's Killerton estate in Devon will commence with a four-year badger vaccination programme which could pave the way to the widespread use of vaccination as a way of tackling bovine TB in cattle.
It is hoped that the programme, funded by the charity which owns many farms in hot-spot areas, will show vaccination as a viable alternative to culling as a means of controlling the disease in wildlife. It is believed that the prgramme will cost £80,000 a year.
Mark Harold, director for the trust’s South West region, said: “In many areas of the UK there are clearly practical problems in implementing an effective cull of badgers to reduce bovine TB in cattle.
“In these instances, vaccination of badgers would appear to be the most effective way of controlling the wildlife reservoir of the disease, and with the advent of oral vaccines, this approach could be significantly cheaper too.
“This programme will show how badger vaccination can be deployed over a large area, and will pave the way for more widespread use of vaccination as an effective alternative to culling.