West Cornwall Badger Vaccination Project Arrives at Higher Carnyorth Farm

Posted on: 27th October 2014

West Cornwall Badger Vaccination Project arrives at Higher Carnyorth Farm

Badger Health check

Badger Health check

Last Saturday I had the privilege of meeting those involved in the project researching the part vaccinating badgers can play in reducing TB in cattle. We have agreed to be part of the scheme, advocated by our MP Andrew George, and run by the Zoological Society of London. We have a large bank between our smallholding and the neighbouring field and from what I’ve seen and been told this weekend, it is home to a healthy looking bunch of badgers!

Badger weigh in

Badger weigh in

Traps were placed here for a week with food to entice the badgers to explore them, without them being set. On Friday night, the traps were re-bated and this time set and early on Saturday morning we went down to discover 4 badgers between the traps at our place and next door. Senior Research Scientist, Rosie Woodroffe, went to sedate the 2 in our field and then set up her field based surgery on a couple of blankets. Once the badgers were duly sleeping she took them, one at a time, from the traps. They were vaccinated, blood was taken to check their TB status, they were marked, measured and weighed and generally given a health check. The same was then done over the hedge. Rosie and fellow scientist, Seth Jackson, later returned when the badgers woke up, to let them out.

Vaccinated badger release

Vaccinated badger released, after a health check and a snooze!

The process was repeated again on Sunday morning but only one new badger was trapped and vaccinated. They will return here annually for the next 2 years.

We are not quite sure what they are eating (I think my husband will be double checking the security of his animal feed stores) but we had some impressive sized badgers including one that achieved a record for this area of over 13kg! I knew when I first saw it in the trap that it was a whopper. Rosie’s examination also suggested they were all pretty healthy.

This current project is working in the Penwith peninsula and Helston areas. Anyone wanting more information can visit www.zsl.org/science/research . The project is scheduled to continue until 2020 and is being funded by the Badger and Cattle Vaccination Initiative, with vaccine being donated by Defra. Personally, I hope this research will not only help reduce bovine TB locally but also show that there is an alternative approach to culling. In my view, recent practice has shown that culling cannot deliver what scientist believe is necessary to be effective and it is possible that ineffective culling of badgers may be more harmful to the control of TB than beneficial.

If you are a land owner or know landowners that might want to get involved in the project then contact Seth Jackson by emailing seth.jackson@ioz.ac.uk. The more of us that volunteer then the more chance there is of reducing Bovine TB locally and the stronger the evidence base will be for the research.