News last week suggested that badger culling could be “phased out” across England and Wales if trials for a new cattle vaccination process intending to cut bovine tuberculosis (bTB), which could begin next year, are a success.
But it would be 2025 at the earliest before the cattle vaccine could be made widely available – too long say the Trust, who have been carrying out a successful badger vaccination scheme since 2012.
Since 2013, the Government has pursued a policy of culling badgers in a bid to control the disease, with over 102,000 badgers culled since 2013.
In March, it was announced that the Government would bring in measures to phase out the badger cull and instead, focus on non-lethal ways of controlling the spread of bTB, including funding the vaccination of badgers and assisting land owners to help stop the cattle-to-cattle transmission of the disease on farms and during cattle movements.
But there has been no further progress on this since the announcement.
The news comes just two years after it was announced that licensed badger culling was extended into Staffordshire.
Staffordshire Wildlife Trust has long-campaigned against the culling of badgers and advocates the development of a cattle vaccine instead, along with DEFRA-funded badger vaccination and incentives aimed at improving biosecurity on farms and during the movement of cattle.
In 2020 the Trust is expecting to vaccinate badgers on eight separate locations including Trust owned or managed land.
Jeff Sim, Senior Conservation Manager for Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, said: “Time is so important here, as we have been saying for so many years. Despite the announcement in March and the news last week, which we initially welcomed, we are yet to see any real progress from the Government outlining concrete plans and proposals.
“At the moment, there are more question marks than answers – and we are calling on the Government to stop culling badgers and instead fund badger vaccination while we wait for the cattle vaccine to be introduced.
“The Government’s own research has shown that culling badgers isn’t the solution. Vaccinating badgers is cheaper, more humane and more environmentally friendly. We call on the Government to engage with organisations like Staffordshire Wildlife Trust and who have been vaccinating badgers for years."