Government launches new measures to combat the spread of Bovine TB

Work to develop a vaccine for cattle and to vaccinate badgers is underway, as new measures to eradicate Bovine TB in England by 2038 have been announced by Environment Secretary, George Eustice.

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 250km2.

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 Bovine TB 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.

Vaccination trials

Last year, the government announced that Bovine TB 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 Bovine TB vaccine by 2025.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said:

“Bovine TB is one of the most difficult and intractable animal health challenges that the UK faces today, causing considerable trauma for farmers and costing taxpayers over £100 million every year.

The badger cull has led to a significant reduction in Bovine TB but no one wants to continue the cull of a protected species indefinitely.

“That is why we are now building on this progress by accelerating other elements of our strategy, including cattle vaccination and improved testing, so that we can eradicate this insidious disease and start to phase out badger culling as soon as possible.”