Hope to avoid badger cull in East Sussex

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Animal groups in Sussex are appealing for new members and donations to help vaccinate badgers against Bovine TB.

The South Downs Badger Protection Group is working with East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) with additional funding from International Animal Rescue to capture and protect the animals.

They fear that the Government might widen the controversial cull currently taking place in the West Country.

Badgers are being shot by licenced farmers in Somerset and Gloucestershire because the Government sees the badger as a cause of spreading bovine TB, according to the South Downs Badger Group.

It said many scientists believed that the Government’s best estimate of a 16 per cent decrease in bovine TB over nine years, following the slaughter of 70 per cent of badgers, indicated the real cause (84 per cent) was cattle to cattle transmission.

The group said better bio-security, increased testing and vaccination was the answer to reducing bovine TB.

South Downs Badger Protection Group chairman Graham Amy said: “Unfortunately because of EU legislation, farmers are unable to vaccinate their cattle.

“Bovine TB has declined with enhanced cattle testing but if we can raise sufficient funds we can virtually eliminate the disease in badgers in East Sussex and reduce the risk of them being killed in the future.”

The group wants to pay for more members to be trained to capture the badgers, vaccinate and mark them.

Mr Amy said: “Unfortunately, the licence for training costs £500 per person per year and other costs include the cost of the cages (£1,800) and the BCG vaccine itself at £5 a jab.

“We have funded the first six members to undertake training but we could do with many more to stop our favourite mammal from being destroyed by this unscientific Government decision.”

The group’s Sussex Badger Vaccination Project will start early next year, depending on funding and the willingness of farmers, landowners and local authorities to allow access to their land.

Donations to the South Downs Badger Protection Group should be sent to the treasurer at 71, Court Farm Road, Newhaven, East Sussex, BN9 9DY. Call Graham Amy on 01273 514942 or by email seahavenpr@aol.com