Cheshire East Council is to support a badger vaccination programme in the borough.
The council has announced it will be partnering with Cheshire Badger Vaccination Programme (CBVP), which will carry out the vaccinations.
The move follows a decision of the council’s cabinet in January to endorse badger vaccination as an important part of any long-term approach to reducing the prevalence of bovine TB in wildlife and cattle.
The council also committed to providing resources to support the programme.
Cllr Nick Mannion, CEC cabinet member for environment and regeneration, said: “We are delighted to be working with CBVP.
“It has already started vaccinating badgers on farmland and council-owned land and we realise that, by supporting it with council resources, CBVP can offer vaccination free of charge to more farmers across Cheshire East and therefore play an important part in controlling bovine TB in the borough.”
CBVP is also coordinating the badger vaccination programme across Cheshire West and by vaccinating in key areas across the whole of Cheshire, its aim is to create a ‘firebreak’ of vaccinated badgers to prevent the spread of bovine TB from the high-risk areas to the low-risk areas.
Elaine Alexander, coordinator of CBVP, said: “CBVP looks forward to working with Cheshire East Council on the vaccination programme and supporting the farming community.
“Bovine TB is a devastating disease and very difficult to eradicate once it takes hold in an area.
“Bovine TB is spread in several ways, primarily between cattle, but there is a small incidence of infection from badgers.
“Vaccination forms one important part of a range of measures to control this disease, including increased biosecurity and minimising cattle movement.”
Vaccination creates ‘herd immunity’ in the resident badger population and does not cause disturbance to the animals’ social structure, meaning a stable and protected population.
Culling, on the other hand, removes local badgers which leaves a void for new badgers to move in. These may or may not be infected and so perpetuate a cycle of infection.
Katy Lowe, a cattle farmer in Hassall, near Sandbach, added: “I am very pleased to hear that the badger vaccination programme in Cheshire is to be expanded.
“CBVP vaccinate the badgers on our land and I have found them to be professional, thorough and understanding of the plight that farmers face.
“For me, vaccination offers a viable and effective alternative to culling.”