Badgers may be culled on Downs, charity warns

Credit: Tim Matthews SUS-140910-112441001

Credit: Tim Matthews SUS-140910-112441001

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A charity is warning badgers may be culled in an area of the South Downs between Brighton and Eastbourne.

Sussex Wildlife Trust said this part of the countryside is a bovine TB (bTB) high risk area and it was possible the Government could sanction a cull to control the disease.

But Dr Tony Whitbread, chief executive of Sussex Wildlife Trust, strongly believes that killing badgers is not the answer. He wants to vaccinate all the badgers on Sussex Wildlife Trust nature reserves in the high risk area and the land adjoining them where possible. Sussex Wildlife Trust is writing to people in the High Risk Area this week (Dec 1 - 7) to ask for their help. The charity said vaccination should take place alongside careful monitoring and management of cattle movements.

Dr Whitbread said, “Badger vaccination involves carefully catching all badgers in an area and injecting them with vaccine, using a tried and tested method. We know it works and success rates (in terms of numbers of badgers injected) are high. But, this has to be done every year, for every badger, for at least five years. Clearly such an operation is not cheap. But, against the flawed alternative of culling, we think it is a reasonable price to pay.”

Dr Whitbread said bovine TB threatened grazing which helps shape our landscape.

Bio security on farms, careful control of cattle movement and regular testing was also part of preventing the spread of the disease. In the long term other bTB control measures may become available – such as an oral vaccine for badgers and a vaccine for cattle.

Send a cheque made payable to Sussex Wildlife Trust, Woods Mill, Henfield, Sussex, BN5 9SD marked ‘badger appeal or visit www.sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/badgerappeal