“Vaccinate, don’t exterminate” is a popular slogan among the anti-badger cull crowd – and one that sums things up rather well when it comes to badger-related measures for bovine TB control.
There really aren’t that many options that relate solely to badgers – you can indeed either exterminate or vaccinate. Or leave them alone. And focus instead on cattle-based measures as recommended by many experts, not least the ISG based on its findings from the RBCT, and more recently, by European Commission officials giving evidence in February 2013 to the EFRA Select Committee as part of their inquiry into the vaccination of badgers and cattle in relation to bovine TB.
Research on vaccination of badgers against TB suggests that vaccination can play an important role in a cattle TB eradication programme, for example, by using it in and around areas of high cattle TB incidence. Currently only an injectable vaccine is licenced for use. This method adds to the costs of any vaccination programme of wild animals as badgers have to be trapped first before they can be vaccinated. However, work is underway to produce an oral vaccine for badgers, which would greatly reduce the costs of vaccination. But proponents of badger vaccination say there is much that can be done already to reduce the costs of badger vaccination.
In this section of Badgergate we look at Badger Vaccination in more detail. We will also revisit badger control as a policy measure for bovine TB control in due course.