House of Commons Library

Badger Culling : Alternatives

Published Wednesday, June 11, 2014

TB vaccination of badgers and cattle: Policy in England and Wales and progress in developing useable vaccines

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The vaccination of badgers against TB is an alternative approach being investigated to address the problem of the disease in cattle. The current available vaccine for badgers, which is injectable, has been shown to reduce the burden of disease in badger populations. However administering the vaccine involves bating and trapping, and is resource intensive. There is as yet no evidence that use of the vaccine in badgers would reduce levels of disease in cattle. There is no date for when an oral badger vaccine, which would be easier to administer, will be available

TB vaccination of cattle is also being explored as an option, with the Government expecting to commence field trials in 2015. This is expected to take two to five year to complete. For this to be a useful option the test needs to be effective at distinguishing between infected and vaccinated cattle. TB vaccination of cattle would also have to be approved at EU level, which the Government expects would take up to 2023 to achieve.

Defra has also has carried out investigations into the use of gases such as carbon monoxide or anoxic gas-filled foam as a sett-based means of humane culling. They are also investigating the options for using oral and injectable contraceptives in badgers.

The Welsh Government suspended a badger cull programme in 2011 and replaced it with a five year trapping and vaccination programme which is ongoing, and which published its first year report in January 2013. In Northern Ireland a test and vaccinate or remove method is currently being tested.

For further information Library note SNSC 3751 summarises the findings of the Randomised Badger Culling Trials (RBCT) published in 2007 and the previous Government’s decision not to carry out a cull. Library note SNSC 5873 on Badger Culling summarises developments since 2010, including the current Government’s decision to cull badgers using controlled shooting. Library Note SNSC 6387 covers details of the controlled shooting pilots in England. Library Note SNSC 6081 covers Bovine TB Statistics

Commons Briefing papers SN06447

Author: Elena Ares

Topics: Agriculture, Agriculture and environment, Animal diseases, Animal welfare, Animals, Countryside, Wildlife

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