Defra plans to vaccinate badgers in areas close to high-risk bovine TB (bTB) hotspots.

The department will provide financial support for privately-led badger vaccination projects in the edge area, which lies between the high risk and low risk areas.

The move, welcomed by Care for the Wild and the Badger Trust, will fund charities and other organisations to inoculate badgers against the disease.

The Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme (BEVS) is part of the Government’s strategy to reduce bTB, with the intention of preventing the disease being carried out of hotspot areas by sick badgers.

Dominic Dyer, of the Badger Trust and Care for the Wild, said: “It’s great to see the Government pushing ahead with this scheme.

“Care for the Wild and the Badger Trust were helping evolve a similar plan a year or so ago so it’s fantastic this has taken shape and is being given the full backing of Defra.

“Badgers are no more than a minor player when it comes to bTB, as the latest evidence suggests they are responsible for less than 6% of new outbreaks.

“Culling them is a completely pointless, unscientific and ultimately unsuccessful way of dealing with them, so focussing on vaccination in these key areas is a good way to go.

“It would be a real seal of approval to this policy if the new environment secretary Liz Truss chaired the next BEVS stakeholder meeting to show this is the way the Government is heading.”

To apply for the existing Badger Vaccination Fund for 2014, schemes must involve two or more adjacent cattle farms in the edge area counties of Hampshire, East Sussex, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Derbyshire and Cheshire.

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