ABOUT THE PROJECT
Vaccinating wildlife populations is not something new. For many years it has been an effective tool proven to combat, control and minimise reservoirs of the many diseases that occur across wildlife populations of all species. Just like we vaccinate our cats and dogs at home, our wildlife populations can often use a helping protective hand. In Belgium, Canada, France and the United States successful vaccination projects were proven to minimise rabies among wildlife and household pets alike, significantly lowering transmission and outbreak rates. The science has shown that the reservoir of bTB in badgers is very small and the likelihood of badgers transmitting bTB to cattle is extremely low. Despite this, we feel that doing our part to help stamp out bTB across our wildlife and farming communities only creates a healthier badger population.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
It is undeniable that bTB has had a devastating effect on both the farming community and wildlife populations which could have been prevented by better detection, tighter cattle controls and effective scientific approaches. In order to help eliminate bTB in Great Britain we have begun the Badger Vaccination Project which works alongside our Badger Vaccination Grant to help fund, promote and increase the number of volunteer led badger vaccination programmes.
Not only is it more effective at controlling and minimising reservoirs of disease in badger populations it is also far more cost effective for the taxpayer. Currently, culling badgers costs the taxpayer approximately £1,100 to cage trap and kill a single badger. On the other hand, vaccination only costs an average of £200 to cage trap, vaccinate and release a single badger. DEFRA funded research has shown that vaccinating badgers (which don't have bTB) can significantly reduce the risk of these animals any any cubs they may have contracting the disease.
WHAT DO WE DO?
The Badger Trust is aiming to support the mass development of these volunteer led programmes across England, Wales and Northern Ireland that provide farmers with access to alternative ongoing support instead of culling. Funds collected on this page will directly support badger vaccinations in numerous avenues including funding our Badger Vaccination Grant. We are calling on the government to introduce a nationally funded Badger Vaccination Program that we believe will be far more scientifically effective at controlling and eliminating reservoirs of bTB in badgers and more cost effective to farmers and the taxpayers.
CASE STUDY: DERBYSHIRE VACCINATION PROJECT
The Badger Vaccination Project in Derbyshire began as a standalone project put together by Tim Birch and Debbie Bailey in 2014 with the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. Debbie Bailey is the Lead Badger Vaccination Coordinator for the Derbyshire Wildlife Trusts and sits on the Board of Directors at the Badger Trust. Debbie is our resident vaccinations expert with years of on the ground, first hand knowledge in this area.
The Derbyshire Badger Vaccination Project consists of 100 volunteers, 16 lay vaccinators, 12 volunteer lay vaccinators, and 4 vets who volunteer their time. The programme has converted 43 landowners in Derbyshire alone to support vaccination on their land and this number grows every year. By signing up to the program, the landowners agree not to cull for a period of 5 years. The volunteer based program has enabled them to cover large, contiguous areas and protect badgers in those areas from culling and transmission. The program works with farmers who want a practical approach that offers tangible results.
In the first year they vaccinated just 50 badgers. The second year this number jumped to 120 badgers and despite a pause due to global vaccination shortage, they purchased the vaccination from Canada and continued vaccinating. They estimate they will vaccinate 200 badgers in 2018 alone. In total over the course of 3 years the project has vaccinated 447 badgers and counting.
The program is spearheaded by the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and the National Trust. It is supported by the Derbyshire County Council and local Badger Groups with grant support from the Badger Trust and coordinated by Debbie Bailey. The program is known as a School of Excellence by DEFRA and Natural England and have supported and trained volunteers and vaccinators from many Wildlife Trusts and other organisations across the country.