“Cull or cure?”
Hope to launch badger vaccination pilot in Penwith this year
As the Government launches two “pilot” badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire, West Cornwall MP, Andrew George, announced good progress in the project to vaccinate badgers against Bovine TB across west Cornwall.
Mr George confirmed that the Zoological Society of London will oversee the programme which will run for at least six years and extend to the whole of the Penwith peninsula. The Government has granted funds to the project to commence a small trial vaccination project in Penwith. This could commence later this year.
Mr George said: “The Government’s pilot cull runs the very high risk of making the situation worse. In any case it is highly unlikely that the Penwith area would ever succeed in securing Government support for a cull, even if it were proven to be a success because when the Government backed badger cull trial was undertaken in the Penwith area a decade ago, non-cooperation and disruption resulted in less than 50% of the area being accessible for culling.
“Bovine TB has had and is continuing to have a devastating effect on many livestock farms here in west Cornwall. It is absolutely essential that we make every effort to get on top of this disease. But the project cannot succeed without the support of volunteers (otherwise it becomes prohibitively expensive) or local farmers and landowners. The response so far has been encouraging but there’s still much more to do.
“Although the Government has offered financial support for a small pilot to be undertaken this year, we still have more work to do to plan for the remaining six years of the project. However, things are coming together well and with the support of the National Trust, the Cornwall Wildlife Trust and the Zoological Society of London I am confident that this project could have a real and beneficial impact on beef and dairy farms in the area.”