Lewes MP "committed" to vaccinations following badger cull reports

Lewes MP Maria Caulfield speaking with local farmers
Lewes MP Maria Caulfield speaking with local farmers

Lewes MP Maria Caulfield has said she is "committed" to bringing a badger vaccination programme to her constituency, following reports of further badger culls in England.

Ms Caulfield said she has been working alongside local farmers and relevant organisations with the view of putting together a case for a badger vaccination programme to put before Government.

The MP also says she has called on recently appointed Secretary of State at DEFRA Andrea Leadsom to meet with her to discuss badger management in the South Downs, which is considered a high risk area for bovine TB.

She said: “I remain committed to bringing about a badger vaccination programme within my constituency of Lewes. Cattle infected with TB costs our cattle farmers millions of pounds each year, as well as causing huge heart ache for all of those involved.

“Regrettably, due to an international shortage of TB vaccine, to date the Government has been unable to support a vaccination programme with the constituency. This doesn’t however mean that it should be written off as a future option, and I wish to seek assurances from the new DEFRA Secretary to this effect.”

Ms Caulfield's comments come after the BBC reported Government plans to carry out further badger culls in five new areas of England in early September.

The BBC reports the culls are expected to take place in South Devon, North Devon, North Cornwall, West Dorset, and South Herefordshire.

In response to the reports Paul Wilkinson, of The Wildlife Trusts, said: “The Wildlife Trusts believe that the control of Bovine TB in cattle should be the main focus of everyone’s efforts to control this problem. The evidence shows that badgers are not the primary culprits in the spread of TB in cattle: the primary route of infection is via cow-to-cow contact.

"A vaccine for cattle should be a priority. The Government has failed to develop one for TB. UK Cattle are already vaccinated for up to 16 diseases - why should TB be different?”

So far efforts to develop a vaccination programme have been stalled by a world-wide shortage of the drug BCG, which is used in both human and badger TB vaccinations.

As a result of the global shortage the World Health Organisation has advised countries to limit the use of the vaccine to those individuals who need it most. This has seen the government suspend its badger vaccination projects in England and Wales.

Last year the Sussex Wildlife Trust launched an appeal to fund badger vaccinations

A spokesman for the Trust said: "We strongly believe that killing badgers is not the answer. We want to vaccinate all the badgers on our nature reserves in the high risk area, and adjoining land where possible.

"We’ll never allow badger culling on our nature reserves, but vaccination may help control the spread of the disease, and that’s vital if we’re to continue to manage our nature reserves effectively."

More details can be found at sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk

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