First badgers vaccinated against TB in East Sussex

Volunteers from the Sussex Badger Vaccination Project have been out vaccinating the first badgers to be vaccinated against Bovine Tb in East Sussex. Two badgers have been caught and vaccinated on land belonging to the Sussex Horse Rescue Trust, as well as two at a residential garden in Oakwood Drive, Uckfield.

Traps were baited with peanuts to encourage the badgers to go inside and in the early hours of Tuesday 26th August the first badger was vaccinated. The first two badgers were caught in Oakwood Drive and vaccinated prior to release. Kathy Martyn from Oakwood Drive said "I've had badgers visiting my garden for a number of years on and off and when I found out that the Badger Vaccination Project were vaccinating badgers here I offered my garden to them. I am delighted that these were the first two badgers to be vaccinated."

Badger Number Six being vaccinated at Uckfield.
Badger Number Six being vaccinated at Uckfield.

"Having the use of Kathy's garden has been useful as it is unclear whether her badgers are the same as those which are using the Horse Sanctuary land, but it gave us an valuable additional site which we added to our Natural England licence" said Kate Edmonds Sussex Badger Vaccination Project Director.

This has been a year long project to raise funds for traps, equipment and training and badger vaccination is now being rolled out to help fight bovine tuberculosis in East Sussex. Lead Lay Vaccinator Trevor Weeks MBE will be undertaking the first badger vaccination as the sun rising. Further trapping will take place the following morning to catch any additional badgers not caught on the first night.

There is nothing hit and miss about what we are doing. We use well established protocols set in place by the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency and we aim to catch 80% of the badgers.

Vaccinated Badger runs free.
Vaccinated Badger runs free.

“The Vaccine is BadgerBCG, licensed in 2010 after development by FERA (now the Animal Health & Veterinary Laboratories Agency, AHVLA). No vaccination, including human BCG, is effective with 100% of subjects, but neither does it have to be to achieve “herd immunity”. It’s about shifting the proportion of immune individuals to infected ones as it is with human vaccination. Over 4 years, vaccination reduces susceptibility to bTB by 76% and when at least 1/3 of a social group is vaccinated, the risk to new cubs is reduced by 79%. Current advice from AHVLA Badger Vaccination Deployment Project is that each location should be vaccinated every year for 5 years for optimum immunity” said Kate Edmonds, Director of the Sussex Badger Vaccination Project. Badger Vaccination work has been undertaken for the past 7 years at the AHVLA site in Gloucestershire and is also being undertaken in Pembrokeshire Wales by the Welsh Government and by Wildlife Trusts in Gloucestershire, Dorset, Cheshire, Shropshire, Somerset, Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Hampshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire in addition to the National Trust at Killerton in Devon. Vaccination in East Sussex already has the support of five farmers and it is seeking more to begin vaccination in spring 2015.  The project also has the backing of Bill Pepper, the Agricultural Vet at Cliffe Vets in Lewes, as well as the members of the East Sussex Badger Vaccination Coordination Group which has representatives from the NFU, AHVLA, CLA, BVA and other bodies. “What we are doing will help badgers, farmers and cattle and is good for animal welfare.  If this project is to succeed we do need the public support and help to raise funds to help keep the costs of vaccination as low as possible. Currently this stands at £25 per badger per vaccine, which is much cheaper than the cost of culling, so if anyone would like to help support our work please send a donation payable to the Sussex Badger Vaccination Project to 7 North St, Alfriston, BN26 5UG."

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SBVP is a charitable company. Company No: 9069076

Press Contacts Trevor Weeks MBE - 07931523958
Kate Edmonds - 07774251302
Pauline Grant - Sussex Horse Rescue Trust - 01825762010

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