This morning the first badgers in East Sussex were vaccinated against TB.
Sussex Badger Vaccination Project (SBVP) has been set up to offer farmers and landowners the opportunity to vaccinate badgers on their land. It is hoped the project will be an effective alternative of eradicating bovine tuberculosis (bTB) than culling.
Four badgers in Uckfield were vaccinated by volunteers from SBVP in the early hours of Tuesday morning, using traps baited with peanuts.
The first two badgers were caught in a garden in Oakwood Drive and vaccinated prior to release, the others badgers were on land belonging to the Sussex Horse Rescue Trust at Hempstead Farm.
Trevor Weeks MBE, is the lead Lay Vaccinator for the project. He said:
The weather was not a dry as forecast overnight and as a result the capture rate was slower than expected, and this is part of the reason why you vaccinate over 2-3 nights.
Sussex Badger Vaccination Project is manned by volunteers and as such is currently able to vaccinate badgers for around £25 per badger caught keeping the cost to the landowner as low as possible. SBVP is only able to do this thanks to fundraising and generous donations from the public. SBVP is currently seeking additional funding so the project can be expanded and a larger area covered over the next five years. They are also keen to hear from other cattle farmers who might be interested in having badgers on their land vaccinated from 2015.
Kathy Martyn from Oakwood Drive said:
I’ve had badgers visiting my garden for a number of years on and off and when I found out that the Badger Vaccination Project were vaccinating badgers here I offered my garden to them. I am delighted that these were the first two badgers to be vaccinated.
Kate Edmonds, Sussex Badger Vaccination Project Director, said:
Having the use of Kathy’s garden has been useful as it is unclear whether her badgers are the same as those which are using the Horse Sanctuary land, but it gave us an valuable additional site which we added to our Natural England licence.
Although the land is not a cattle farm there is neighbouring and close by land which is farmed and grazed by cattle. The Sussex Badger Vaccination Project now has 6 other farms now interested in badger vaccination on their land which the group hopes to help with at the cheapest possible price.
Volunteers from the Sussex Badger Vaccination Project will return over the next few years to re-vaccinate the badger to help build up the herd immunity in the local badger population.
Trevor Weeks added:
We are not aiming to, nor need to vaccinate every badger to be successful. Following well established protocols set out by the Animal Health & Veterinary Laboratories Agency we aim to catch about 80% of the local badger population each time which is more than sufficient to make an impact of the spread of Bovine Tb.