Badger TB Vaccination Deployment

Project Overview

Ambios has been carrying out an annual Badger TB Vaccination Deployment on the Sharpham Estate, Totnes, Devon since 2013. The aim of this project is to test methods of protecting cattle from TB, whilst also protecting badgers and maintaining their role in the biodiversity of the rural landscape. Additionally, the data gathered as part of the project will be used to gain insights into temporal (time-line) and spacial (areas used) variations of the local badger population.

Background

Through badger TB vaccination on the Sharpham Estate we will increase the proportion of badgers that are given a degree of protection from this infection. We aim to make it increasingly hard for TB to maintain itself within the local badger population, thus providing ‘herd immunity’, a concept used in human-immunisation programmes). Badger vaccination is scientifically valid but not a ‘quick win’. The benefits will take some years to realise and TB infection can still find its way to cattle via other routes. However the longer any programme of vaccination is sustained the higher the probability of a successful outcome.  We are also working to better understand how many  badgers there are across the Sharpham Estate.  In 2014 & 2015 we vaccinated a total of 21 badgers across the Estate, a significant step towards realising our aim.

Research methods

The annual badger TB Vaccination is led by qualified Ambios staff who have many years of experience with badgers. They work alongside a number of trainees to deliver this programme. Initially the team set up a number of camera traps close to key routes in and out of badger sets. Overnight recordings are then analysed to gather data relating to badger numbers, directions of travel, behaviour and preference for bait. Subsequently a number of live traps are set up at carefully selected locations for the safe capture of badgers. The TB Vaccinations are administered by Ambios professionals with the assistance of trainees, before the badgers are quickly released into their. Data and information gathered throughout the programme will then be analysed alongside the data gathered in previous years.