Dorset Wildlife Trust vaccinates badgers in anti-cull move

Dorset Wildlife Trust vaccination project
Image caption Trained Dorset Wildlife Trust volunteers and staff are laying humane traps with peanuts as bait

Badgers are being vaccinated by a wildlife charity to show "a safe and humane" alternative to recent culls.

Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) is treating badgers on its nature reserves to tackle the spread of Bovine TB.

It claims vaccinations are more effective in controlling TB than culls.

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it already funded vaccination projects but culling was needed in areas like Dorset where TB was "endemic".

Badgers 'unharmed'

DWT raised funds for a five-year vaccination programme "to both protect badgers and support farmers".

Trained DWT volunteers and staff lay humane traps with peanuts as bait and released the badgers "unharmed as quickly as possible".

Image caption All vaccinated badgers are sprayed with non-toxic paint to prevent duplicate vaccinations

It comes after two government-led pilot culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire, killing badgers in what Environment Secretary Owen Paterson called a "safe, humane and effective means of reducing badger numbers".

But DWT chief executive Simon Cripps, claimed there were "more effective and reliable ways of controlling the disease, such as better biosecurity, badger vaccination and, in the long term, cattle vaccination".

He added culling would increase the transfer risk of Bovine TB from infected to healthy badgers and cattle.

A Defra spokeswoman said: "We already fund vaccination programmes, but alone they won't solve our TB problem because vaccination does nothing for already infected badgers.

"We must do everything we can to tackle the disease.

"Scientific evidence shows that culling badgers in areas where disease is widespread helps reduce cases of TB in cattle."

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