Welsh Government Announce Badger Vaccination Programme
Wonderful news - John Griffiths, Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development in the Welsh Government announced this afternoon:-
“After careful consideration I have decide to pursue a badger vaccination programme…..I have asked my Chief Veterinary Officer to design the project to begin in the Intensive Action Area this summer and continue for five years. I have also asked her to consider other geographical areas where vaccination could also contribute to TB eradication …
I have noted the advice on the potential benefits that might be obtained from vaccination or culling. My conclusion is that I am not at present satisfied that a cull of badgers would be necessary to bring about a substantial reduction in the incidence of bovine TB in cattle in which case I cannot authorise a cull under the Animal Health Act 1981.”
There were many questions in the Senedd with several opposition AMs saying that the Minister had betrayed the rural community by not authorising a badger cull. (Elin Jones’ comments re killing badgers were appalling and she was rightly called to order by the Presiding Officer). John Griffiths responded with clarity and knowledge about the nature of bovine TB and options for its control , and robust reasoning for choosing to go ahead with vaccination without delay. He has clearly taken on board key issues such as latency of TB, and perturbation of badgers and the possible spread of TB from culling.
Thank you, thank you, thank you – to all the people who have supported the campaign against culling badgers in Wales and towards a truly sustainable solution to bovine TB. The support for PAC, local badger groups and our welsh badgers from all over the UK has been fantastic and much appreciated.
And the biggest thanks to the Badger Trust – none of this could have been possible without them.
We will now do all we can to support both the vaccination programme here in West Wales and, of course, the campaign to stop badger culling from going ahead in England. We’ll follow up with some more information about the vaccination programme in the next few days when we have come back down to earth - but meanwhile here below is the statement we’ve just released.
Vaccination is the right way forward.
Pro-vaccination group, Pembrokeshire Against the Cull, (PAC) are delighted the Welsh Government have decided to reject Badger Culling and implement a strategy based on vaccination of badgers as part of its plan to obtain TB free status for Wales. It is particularly encouraging that the Minister is going to start the vaccination programme without delay this year. We are sure that there will be much relief, especially from those worried about the potential impact on tourism from culling, and cross-community support for this approach within the Intensive Action Area.
Celia Thomas chair of PAC said “We are very pleased that the Minister John Griffiths has taken the brave decision to change course and use badger vaccination to address any potential risks posed by Badgers in the spread of Bovine tb. We would urge him to improve and enforce the current cattle controls, in particular those that reduce opportunities for cross infection in cattle such as isolation and rapid removal of TB Reactors, in all Welsh Bovine tb hotspots.
Michael Griffiths said “Cattle Vaccination is the only long term strategy and we would ask The Minister to press the UK Government to pursue this option with the utmost urgency. We know that DEFRA*1will, in the coming months, begin to discuss with farmers, vets and other interested parties how the cattle vaccine and DIVA test can be used in the field and the likely implications on different types of farm business.”
*1. See “Preparing for Deployment”