VOLUNTEERS are being sought to help vaccinate badgers against bovine TB.

The call comes from Knutsford businesswoman Elaine Alexander, who is co-ordinating the vaccination programme.

Elaine said volunteers were being trained in the process of vaccinating badgers against bovine TB.

She said: “They are part of a new group calling themselves Cheshire Badger Vaccination Programme (CBVP).

“The group is being mentored by the Derbyshire Badger Vaccination Programme, a joint initiative between Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and the National Trust.

“Farmers and landowners in Cheshire now have a choice between culling and vaccinating.

“Local farmers and landowners have already expressed an interest in signing up to the programme, which is offered free of charge.

“CBVP has been awarded a grant from the Badger Trust, but more funds are required to ensure the programme can run successfully, and a fundraising page has been launched at justgiving.com/crowdfunding/cbvp.”

The programme is being co-ordinated by Elaine, who is seeking more volunteers to join the group.

Two information sessions are planned in Knutsford for potential volunteers on July 18, between 3pm and 4pm, and 7pm and 8pm. Please email elaine@cbvp.co.uk to book a place.

Elaine added: “CBVP hopes our work will contribute to the local control of bTB in cattle by creating immunity in a population of Cheshire badgers and support local farmers whilst protecting badgers.

“We need more people to survey setts, place peanuts and traps and vaccinate, and training will be given.

“We also need more people to help with admin and fundraising. Please come along to our information sessions to find out more.

“We need funds now to buy equipment and start the programme, which has agreement from a landowner to start vaccinating in July/August this year over a six square-kilometre area.”

A box of syringes costs £9, it is £30 for one dose of vaccine, £50 for a 25kg sack of peanuts, £130 for a trail camera and £280 for a portable fridge for vaccines.

If anyone would like to find out more about the programme email Elaine at elaine@cbvp.co.uk or visit their Facebook page: fb.me/CheshireBadgerVaccination.

Elaine added: “Bovine tuberculosis costs the UK tens of millions of pounds every year, and CBVP recognises the hardship it causes in the farming community and the need to find the right mechanisms to control the disease, both in domestic animals and our wildlife.

“CBVP strongly believes that vaccination against bTB should play an essential part in controlling this very difficult animal disease.

“Badger vaccination involves humane trapping overnight, vaccination and release.

“Badger BCG vaccine does not cure badgers of the disease, but at the end of our vaccination programme, over several years in each site, the social groups that we will have treated should have a high level of resistance to the bTB disease.

“The work involves adult badgers and cubs being humanely trapped and vaccinated by licensed CBVP operators, revisiting the same area annually for several years to ensure the majority of the local population has been vaccinated.

“We plan on vaccinating badgers on several areas, where cattle and badgers are likely to come into contact and where there is control of large parts of the badgers’ territories by sympathetic landowners.

“For our first year we will be mentored by the Derbyshire Vaccination Programme, which has run a very successful vaccination programme for several years.

“We need funds, volunteers and landowners/farmers who would like their badgers vaccinating.”

If you are a landowner or farmer who is interested in knowing more about the vaccination programme and what it entails email elaine@cbvp.co.uk with your contact details.