The MP who instigated the first community led badger vaccination programme in the UK, Andrew George, heralded the first pilot year of the badger vaccination programme in West Cornwall a great success.
Mr George initiated the badger vaccination project in partnership with the Zoological Society of London last year, Mr George and ZSL’s Professor Rosie Woodroffe – acknowledged national badger ecologist – developed the project in response to concerns about the Government’s programme to eradicate bovine TB in cattle. Both were concerned that the Government’s pilot badger cull ran the very high risk of making the problem of bovine TB significantly worse and, in any case, could not be rolled out in West Cornwall because previous experiments showed that landowner cooperation and disruption would render a cull unworkable.
Mr George chairs the project’s Oversight Committee. The project report will be launched this evening (Tuesday 24th March) in the Lugger, Penzance at 7.30pm.
The report confirms that cooperation amongst farmers and landowners was high and successful trapping and vaccinating badgers was undertaken efficiently with negligible animal welfare consequences.
It is planned to significantly roll the project out across the Penwith area next year with an aim to cover the whole of Penwith over the next four years.
Mr George said, “I must congratulate the fantastic team of volunteers, Mr Bob Speechley and Cornwall Badger Rescue, and local farmers and landowners for their fantastic cooperation and support. I must also thank Rosie Woodroffe and her team, Seth Jackson and Naomi Stratton. This has been an excellent start to the project. It bodes well for future years.
“I hope that farmers and landowners across the rest of West Cornwall will be encouraged by progress, and encouraged that the project has been conducted soundly with no unwanted disruption or impediment to their farming activity. I feel confident that this project can make a significant contribution to efforts to bear down on the devastating problem of bovine TB”.