Badger vaccination projects across England axed

The government has cut a project to vaccinate badgers against bovine TB that was planned for parts of England this summer.

Agriculture Minister James Paice has told MPs that a pilot vaccination project will now only take place near Stroud, Gloucestershire.

Programmes in Herefordshire and Worcestershire, Staffordshire and Devon have been scrapped.

Mr Paice said culling badgers was also being looked at.

The project is due to start in an area near Stroud in July and continue for five years, over which time the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said an estimated £6m will be saved.

Sett surveys

A government spokesman said badgers are to be trapped and vaccinated over a 38.6 square miles of cattle farmland near Stroud, and sett surveys will be carried out in the area near Cheltenham.

Badgers are blamed by many farmers for spreading TB, which affects cattle. Badger culling was ruled out by the previous government.

Mr Paice said: "We've committed to carefully-managed and science-led badger control as part of a package of measures, and we're looking carefully at badger vaccination and culling as part of that.

"It makes sense to review the badger vaccine deployment project to keep our options open and to ensure best possible use of taxpayers' money.

"By going ahead with the training in Stroud, we'll maintain capacity to train lay vaccinators while we consider how best to deploy vaccines as part of a badger control policy."

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