A comprehensive Strategy to achieve TB free status in England by 2038 has been announced by English Environment Secretary Owen Paterson.
This includes continuing to strengthen cattle movement controls, a grant-funded scheme for badger vaccination projects in the ‘edge area’ at the frontier of the disease, and improvements to the four-year badger cull pilots in Somerset and Gloucestershire.
Following recommendations from the Independent Expert Panel that assessed the badger cull pilots last year, a series of changes will be made to improve the effectiveness, humaneness and safety of culling. These changes will be monitored to assess their impact before further decisions are taken on more badger cull licences next year.
Improvements to the pilot culls will include more extensive training for contractors carrying out the cull, better planning by the licensed companies to ensure culling is spread evenly across all land available and better data collection to assess progress. The changes being introduced will help increase the effectiveness of the culls by removing more badgers in a safe and humane way.
The strategy will be a wide range of tools in order to achieve TB free status by 2038. This includes:
- Offering grant funding for private badger vaccination projects in the edge areas aiming to increase TB immunity in uninfected badgers and reduce the spread of the disease. Defra will provide match-funding for successful applicants;
- Continuing to strengthen our cattle movement controls and testing regime to stop the disease from spreading from herd to herd;
- Improving biosecurity by helping farmers understand the disease risk of cattle they buy; and
- Continuing to invest in development of a new vaccine for cattle which could be field tested next year, and an oral badger vaccine which should be available for use by 2019.
The scale of the problem is different across the country, so three bTB management regions will be established known as the High Risk Area, Low Risk Area and the Edge area. A range of measures will be applied to control the disease within each zone according to the risk.
Source: Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA)