Environment, Food and Rural Affairs CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by Carla Kidd

I am writing with regard to hopefully, help, to convince you that badger vaccination is the only acceptable way forward, in the absence of any viable cattle vaccination, to tackle BTB in cattle herds.

We are private landowners, who share their land, with a well established, active badger sett. Since we heard the news, I got in contact with Cornwall Badger Rescue, to find out how we could help in trying to find alternatives to culling, it was then that we found out about badger vaccination. Since that moment, we have arranged to vaccinate our badgers, even though we know BTB is endemic in cattle, but hopefully will show the farmers concerned, there is an alternative and that the general public are trying to be pro-active and also vaccinating our badgers will contribute, to help the small 15% of badger population which is susceptible to BTB. We have managed to vaccinate two badgers so far, which we are thrilled with due to late time in season and unfavourable weather conditions. In 2013, we plan to vaccinate during optimum time. We are paying for this ourselves, along with our neighbours, for no financial gain, peace of mind only. Since then, our MP, Andrew George, has been working towards setting up, a voluntary badger vaccination scheme, for those farmers and landowners who wish to take the initiative now and hopefully avoid the unpleasantness a badger cull will bring.

I won’t go into all the scientific evidence which is against this again, I’ll leave that to the experts. I am offering you a viewpoint from a general member of the public. However, as a lay person, who got as involved as she could in the vaccinating process, I would like to offer my observations of the actual process as follows:

Bob, from Cornwall Badger Rescue, made the process seem easy, even though he had a lot of paperwork to do re. licences etc, also the prices of cages seems steep even with 50 pounds reduction to charities. There’s two things the Government should look into, the vaccination process itself is very straightforward, the difficulties arise with all the red tape our government seems to have wrapped around the process. To us, (members of general public) it almost looks deliberate, that they want it to appear difficult. It takes three—four weeks to get licenses, wasted time, in my opinion, especially for a problem, the Government, NFU, and DEFRA say, needs to be addressed urgently. It’s a joke! Sorry, but it is exactly how it looks to me. Oral vaccine, yes, would also be a good idea but better than injectable vaccine? I don’t think so. How long would it be before farmers would be hooting about ineffectiveness due to the fact they can’t be sure the badgers have eaten the food with vaccine! It’s inevitable, since BTB is endemic in cattle and will not go away until farming methods are addressed, not culling badgers. At least, injectable vaccine is tangible, you know it’s been done and can confirm to farmers, etc, the numbers of badgers which have been done.

I have been reading that, some organic farmers are adding back vital minerals to their soil and around badger setts, minerals such as selenium. Selenium is a mineral which has been shown to be deficient in cattle with BTB. Maybe I am ill informed, but surely this also is something, all farmers should be doing now, off their own backs. Selenium is not harmful if ingested, so why isn’t a suitable mixture, tonic etc available on a large scale for cattle farmers? Maybe it is; if so why isn’t it being used? Apart from the fact we want to protect what’s left of our wildlife and countryside, these reasons and many more should be a good enough explanation of why so many people oppose this cull.

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you need any further explanations.

January 2013

Prepared 5th June 2013