Government sets out next phase of strategy to combat bovine tuberculosis in England
A five-year badger vaccination programme in East Sussex has been awarded £2.27 million to enable farmers to deploy vaccinations over an area of 250 square kilometres. The results of this trial will help inform the government on how to deploy future vaccination schemes at scale across England, halting the culling of this protected species.
The licensing of new intensive badger culls, which have effectively helped reduce bTB rates by half in certain areas, will cease after 2022.
In addition, existing cull licenses could be cut short after two years, down from five years, where supported by sufficient scientific evidence, and there will be no option for them to be renewed. The Government will develop a monitoring system to track the badger population and disease levels to help tackle the disease, with the findings being routinely published on gov.uk.
Last year, the Government announced that bTB cattle vaccination trials in England and Wales had been given the green light, as a result of ground-breaking research by government scientists. These trials are expected to commence in June and, if successful, the project will remain on track to enable the deployment of a cattle bTB vaccine by 2025.
The announcement follows an eight-week consultation launched in January, which sought the public’s views on a range of proposals in response to an independent review of its 25 year bTB strategy, led by Professor Sir Charles Godfray.
Bovine TB is one of the most difficult and intractable animal health challenges that England faces. In the last year, over 27,000 cattle in England have had to be slaughtered to tackle the disease. ■