The Minister confirmed that the Welsh Government had now completed the first year of its badger vaccination programme which is part of a wider programme of work to eradicate bovine TB from cattle in Wales.
The Minister said:
“We have now completed the first year of the vaccination project. The field work began in May and comprised eight main work cycles ending in October. A small number of badger setts were also vaccinated during November.
“Provisional figures indicate that since May we have successfully caught and vaccinated over 1400 badgers in the IAA.
“Our vaccination programme has enabled Wales to take quick and decisive action to develop a degree of immunity to TB within the badger population in the IAA. We believe that this should reduce the risk of TB transmission from badgers to cattle and contribute to the eradication of bovine TB over time."
On 20 March the Environment Minister announced that the Welsh Government would embark on a five year badger vaccination programme within the Intensive Action Area as part of its efforts to eradicate bovine TB from cattle in Wales. This is the first time that a project to cage trap and vaccinate badgers on such an ambitious scale has been carried out.
In addition to the project in the IAA, the Minister has also asked the Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales, Dr Christianne Glossop to consider other areas where vaccination could contribute to TB eradication. Options for expanding the vaccination programme and delivering it in other areas are currently being developed.
The Minister added:
“The success of the badger vaccination initiative is dependant on staff being granted access to as much land as possible. I would like to thank farmers and landowners for their ongoing co-operation and encourage other partners and stakeholders to consider how they could work with us to increase the number of badgers we can vaccinate in Wales.
“I will be monitoring the results of vaccination and of our entire eradication programme carefully to ensure we are making good progress towards our ultimate goal of a TB free Wales. I will report further in the New Year.”