Welsh Badger Vaccination Project

Summary of First Year (2012) Report 

  • The BVP is taking place in 288 km2 mainly in north Pembrokeshire in an area known as the TB Intensive Action Area (IAA)
  • Year 1 field operations took place between May and November 2012 and involved ten teams consisting of two field operatives employed by the Welsh Assembly Government.
  • Fresh sett surveys were conducted in line with Fera’s methodology. Results of a 2010 sett survey undertaken (as part of an earlier proposal to cull badgers) were verified.
  • The vast majority of landowners in the area were extremely cooperative.
    • 472 landowners allowed access onto their land, which comprised 241 km2 of land and 313 main badger setts.
    • 14 landowners refused access for trapping and vaccinating. This prevented access to around 7 km2  and 190 setts, based on the 2010 sett survey.
    • 22 setts identified in 2010 were not accessed directly as the relevant landowners could not be contacted
  • Depending on various assumptions about sett size and whether main and subsidiary setts were accurately identified, the adult badger population in the IAA was estimated to be between roughly 1,200-2,500, with a mid-range figure of around 1,900. It is difficult to estimate the population more precisely as it is notoriously difficult to count a shy, nocturnal, ground-dwelling, social species such as the badger.
  • Prior to vaccinating, field operatives underwent a four-day course run by Fera on Cage Trapping and Vaccination of Badgers to become accredited lay vaccinators. The course included theoretical and practical components on relevant legislation, storage for vaccines, badger trapping, badger welfare and administration of vaccine.
  • A total of 1,424 badgers were successfully trapped and vaccinated in 2012. Nearly 84% of all badgers vaccinated were adults. This means, between 48-95% of all adult badgers in the IAA were vaccinated in 2012.
  • Despite it being one of the wettest summers on record, badger trapping and vaccination took place without any major incident. No badgers were seriously injured or showed any sign of adverse reaction to the vaccine. No staff were injured either.
  • The project cost around £945,000 in 2012, including start-up costs, which was in line with the Government’s original cost estimates. The bulk of the expenses were related to staff costs.