The Sussex Wildlife Trust believes that in the short-term, badger vaccination has the potential to help reduce bTB without the negative impacts related to culling.
We have implemented a programme of vaccination on two of our nature reserves in East Sussex (Malling Down and Southerham Farm) as this area is in a bTB hotspot. This vaccination programme started in 2015 but had to be postponed in 2016 due to a global shortage of the BCG vaccine. The programme has now resumed and is planned to run until 2022 as it needs to cover five consecutive years for maximum efficacy.
For badger vaccination to be effective, a good proportion of the landowners within the target area need to be willing to take part in order to gain access to the majority of the badger population. Since our nature reserves only cover a relatively small area, it is vital that we work with other landowners in a coordinated approach to badger vaccination. This is why we are working with the Sussex Badger Vaccination Project (SBVP) to ensure that as many badgers are vaccinated as possible.
Research has shown that vaccination programmes have the best chance of gaining a high level of resistance within badger social groups if continued annually for at least five years. Additional measures should also be undertaken alongside badger vaccination, such as improving biosecurity. Badger vaccination is at the forefront of the plan, supported by better management of our own livestock. This requires substantial investment, so thank you to all who are supporting this work by donating to our Sussex Badger Appeal.
We’ll never allow badger culling on our nature reserves but vaccination may help control the spread of the disease, and that’s vital if we’re to continue to manage our nature reserves effectively.