Badgers in South Derbyshire.

I appreciate that you have read the various reports from the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust (DWT) and I understand that you and many others find the talk of Badger Culling upsetting.

I understand that you will have researched the problem, but in case you have not looked wider than the information DWT have issued, I have provided on my website some additional information which  I hope provides detailed explanations to the huge problem that farmers and those interested in wildlife face with dealing with Bovine TB.

The Badger cull elsewhere has led to a significant reduction in the disease, but no one wants to continue the cull of this protected species indefinitely. That is why the Government asked Sir Charles Godfray to conduct a review, which concluded in October 2018. Earlier this year, in response to that review, the Government set out its intended next steps.

One of the government's top priorities is the accelerating work to develop a deployable cattle BTB vaccine within the next 5 years Evidence from New Zealand suggests efficacy levels of over 80%. The view is that when combined with other disease control measures the added value of cattle vaccination will be reducing the prevalence and incidence of the disease.

The UK’s Bovine TB eradication strategy is founded in science. It applies the lessons of previous attempts to control the disease, as well as evidence from other countries around the world. This strategy includes a policy of regular testing and removal of infected cattle from herds, as well as tougher restrictions on cattle movements from herds at risk of infection and measures to encourage greater risk management in areas where the disease is rife.

The current BCG vaccine will never provide full protection, so I am pleased that funding will be made available to accelerate the research and trial work needed with the aim of having a deployable vaccine in the next five years. Alongside this, an exit strategy from the intensive culling of badgers will begin.

In the short term culling as regrettable as it is, as New Zealand work has explained is to begin with, just one of the tools. Cattle vaccination only works well if the bacterial load in cows and badgers is dealt with.

All health plans to eradicate infectious disease on a farm evolve around identifying infection, removing infected animals and putting in preventative measures such as vaccination but also reducing risk from other sources.

As soon as possible, a pilot Government-funded badger vaccination will be introduced in at least one area where the four-year cull cycle has concluded, with simultaneous surveillance of disease. The aim is to only allow future culls where the evidence points to a significant reservoir of Bovine TB in badgers.

Finally, the Government will invest in the deployment of better, more frequent and more diverse cattle testing so that we are able to detect the presence of the disease earlier and remove it from cattle herds faster. I am pleased that world-leading bovine TB cattle vaccination trials are also set to get underway in England and Wales as a result of a major breakthrough by Government scientists. These trials enable work to accelerate towards planned deployment of a cattle vaccine by 2025, in the latest milestone to eradicate this highly damaging animal disease.

Ministers hope that any remaining areas who join the current cull programme in the next few years will then wind down by the mid to late 2020s.

The ''flagship'' vaccination area in Derbyshire is over 10km from the cull boundary and has only vaccinated 155 badgers out of an estimated population of 5500. So is vaccine in Badgers effective? well yes, but i will not cure animals already infected. So, it is important but as scientific experts point out it is one of the tools we must continue to use.

Of course, there is no single answer to tackling the scourge of BTB but by deploying a range of policy interventions, we can turn the tide on this terrible disease.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me and please look at the other information. Four farmers have taken their own lives due to the pressure of living with infected herds, while I understand the affection for Badgers I really do not want to hear of more deaths when if we adopt these scientific rules now we can, in a few years see the end of the disease.

 

Yours sincerely

Heather

 

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