THERE’S good news for county landowners, farmers – and badgers – with reports of a specialist working group ready to offer vaccinations on the spot.

Herefordshire Badger group has two fully trained vaccinators and support teams to carry out the process.

Carried out under the strict controls of the Animal Health and Veterinary Group, a full survey of setts is followed with a detailed schedule drawn up with landowner’s agreement.

Vaccination has been proved to be effective in controlling the development and spread of bovine TB in badgers, say the group.

Badgers, unlike cattle, deal effectively with the problem, having areas of infection so they can be infected, but not infectious.

Figures show that 16 per cent of badgers may be infected, but not infectious. However, this can change dramatically if badgers become stressed.

Experience has shown that if vaccinations are done correctly, it causes no stress, keeping badgers in their existing group. This prevents movement away from family setts, so containing any infection.

Experts explain that it is only necessary to vaccinate one-third of badgers due to a natural “herd immunity”. This is particularly important where badger cubs are concerned.

Though costs of setting up a fully functioning vaccination team amount to more than, £3,500, only vaccine costs - £16 per dose - are passed on to landowners. There is no Government subsidy for the vaccine used in Herefordshire.

Said a spokesman for the badger group: “We are very pleased to have started this service, recognising that it is an important service and part of the overall strategy to combat bovine TB.”

The spokesman emphasised the importance of strict testing controls, cattle movements and biosecurity in combating the disease.

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