The county’s largest nature conservation charity is launching a public appeal to raise £25,000 for a pioneering scheme to vaccinate badgers against bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in Staffordshire.
Later this year, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust will begin a five-year vaccination programme on a badger community living on two undisclosed nature reserves in the county.
The move is intended to help reduce the risk of badger to cattle transmission of the disease in the area and show that vaccination is a viable alternative to culling the wild mammals.
During the vaccination process, wild badgers will be captured overnight in ‘live’ traps, before being treated with the vaccine the following morning and then released. Each deployment will see vaccinated badgers given a colour-mark, to allow researchers to estimate the percentage of badgers treated in the area, whilst ensuring already vaccinated badgers can be immediately released if re-captured.
Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s head of Living Landscapes, Dr Sue Lawley, said: “Bovine TB causes huge economic hardship and distress to farmers affected and we want to see it gone from the British countryside, and we believe that vaccinating badgers against the disease is currently the most effective way of tackling it.
“We’re asking people to make a donation to help us fight bovine TB and protect Staffordshire’s badgers. £10 will pay for enough peanuts to bait a trap for two weeks, and £20 will buy a dose of the vaccine and a syringe.”
The Trust is opposed to the culling of badgers as independent research shows that culling the animals could actually cause the disease to spread more widely. A cull will result in territorial boundaries being disturbed which will lead to increased movement of badgers.
The vaccination scheme will start in autumn and donations will pay for vaccination supplies, essential equipment and staff training.
Donations can be made online, via text message or by post:
- To donate online visit www.justgiving.com/badgerappeal
- To donate £10 by text message just text BADG1210 to 70070.
- To donate via post send a cheque payable to Staffordshire Wildlife Trust to, Badger Appeal, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, Freepost NAT4847, Stafford, ST17 0BR.