No Cull Zone for badgers around Northwich Woodlands proposed by Council

4 September 2020

The Council is proposing a No Cull Zone surrounding Northwich Woodlands to protect vaccinated badgers that may venture out of the vaccination area established last year to forage for food and water. 
An application to establish the No Cull Zone will be submitted to Natural England this week. It follows a consultation on a Government proposal to create these zones around badger vaccination sites. 
More than 30,000 cattle are slaughtered each year following tuberculosis infection, and, while transmission routes are still unclear, the Government’s strategy to eradicate the disease includes both vaccination and culling of badgers. 

In September 2019, the Council took the initiative to protect farmers, cattle and badgers by launching a four-year programme, part-funded by Defra, to vaccinate badgers instead of culling them. The programme is overseen by the Council’s Bovine TB Member Task Group and is delivered mainly by specially trained volunteers working for the Cheshire Badger Vaccination Programme.

In the first year the vaccination area covered approximately 17 sq km from the Northwich Woodlands to Lower Whitley/Dutton, including farmland and Marbury Park. With the programme being in its second year, the vaccination area is now being extended by a similar size area towards Lach Dennis. 
The proposed No Cull Zone is only around the Northwich Woodlands section of the vaccination area. The purpose of a No Cull Zone is to create a ‘buffer’ so that vaccinated badgers are not culled if they happen to stray away from the vaccination area onto neighbouring land.
No Cull Zones will be a maximum of 2km and a minimum of 200m width and proportionate to the size of the vaccination area – it is likely a No Cull Zone around the Northwich Woodlands would be towards the smaller end of the scale.
Councillor Karen Shore, Deputy Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council and Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport, said: “It can be the case that badgers which have already been vaccinated venture out of the area and risk being culled as a result. If our application for a No Cull Zone is successful, it will further support our efforts and initiative to roll out an extensive badger vaccination programme.
“In a clinical field study, vaccination of wild badgers resulted in a 74 per cent reduction in the proportion of badgers giving positive results to tuberculosis tests. By creating immunity in a population of badgers in the borough, local farmers will be supported and badgers protected. Vaccinating badgers is not the complete answer to eradicating tuberculosis in cattle but just one of a series of identified actions. We are now looking to upscale our vaccination programme to protect a greater number of badgers in our borough.”

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