Sussex badger work 'to continue without vaccines'

Badgers Image copyright PA
Image caption Badgers are vaccinated against bovine TB to protect cattle

Badger vaccination volunteers will spend a year surveying and mapping sites after a vaccine shortage forced them to halt jabs for the rest of 2016.

The same formula protects humans and badgers from TB - but a supply shortage has seen use of the badger vaccine suspended to prioritise human health.

The Sussex Badger Vaccination Project (SBVP) said work would still continue.

Director Trevor Weeks said badgers would retain some immunity against bovine TB, which affects cattle.

'Cull fears'

Mr Weeks said volunteers, who began vaccinating badgers in 2014, had to carry out site surveys, paperwork and mapping before vaccinations could take place and they saw this as an opportunity.

He said the big problem for SBVP was lack of time and added: "We are very much going to use this to our advantage."

Both SBVP and the Badger Trust have said they do not want to see renewed calls for a badger cull because of the lack of vaccines.

Dominic Dyer, chief executive of the Badger Trust, which has its headquarters in East Grinstead, said the charity had called on the National Farmers Union (NFU), National Trust and Wildlife Trust to support continued vaccinations.

James Osman, from the Sussex NFU, said the suspension of vaccines was disappointing but the organisation still saw culling as a "vital part of the toolbox" of measures to tackle bovine TB.

He said bovine TB levels remained lower in Sussex but it was still "endemic" with some farms still closed down.

Last month, Defra said nearly 1,500 badgers were killed in 2015 as part of the government's cull in the South West and more than half of England was expected to be free of the disease by 2019.

Campaigners claim there is no evidence killing badgers reduces levels of the disease in cattle.

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