The Government has announced the launch of its Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme (BEVS), which will support badger vaccination projects in areas outside the bovine TB high risk area.

§Announced on September 2 as part of the overall strategy to eradicate bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in England, the scheme has been welcomed by the British Veterinary Association (BVA).

President Robin Hargreaves said: “BVA welcomes the secretary of state’s announcement of Government support for badger vaccination projects in the edge areas separating the high and low risk areas of bovine TB, that will be delivered on the ground through local partnerships including wildlife groups, farmers and veterinary surgeons.

“We have long argued there is no one single measure that will tackle bovine TB, and it is therefore important a vaccination strategy is not deployed in isolation, but delivered in conjunction with other key elements of the strategy. We fully support the comprehensive eradication strategy for England that utilises all of the available measures, including targeted badger vaccination in the edge area, targeted and humane culling in the high risk area, strict cattle controls and improved biosecurity.

“Area-based strategies have an important role to play in efforts to control and eradicate the disease across the UK. Recent postmortem evidence from road killed badgers in Cheshire, one of the counties in the edge area, shows provisional 24% infection rates among badgers, which may indicate the edge is advancing and thus illustrates the urgency of dealing with bovine TB in both high risk and edge areas.”

Areas identified for vaccination include Cheshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Hampshire and East Sussex, with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) hoping the strategy will help halt the spread of bTB from hotspot areas in the south-west and west midlands.

The programme is part of the Government’s strategy to achieve bTB free status in England by 2038. Groups will be offered funding of up to 50% of the costs for vaccinating.

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