A record number of badgers were vaccinated against bovine tuberculosis (bTB) this year, according to the Cornwall Wildlife Trust (CWT).
A total of 251 badgers have been vaccinated so far in Cornwall in 2022.
The trust, working with farmers and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), hopes to expand the program into more Cornwall in the future.
The government said its strategy for bTB eradication included “expanding badger vaccination projects”.
It announced new logging licenses last month, including two in Cornwall, but said it did not plan to issue any more in the future as part of its long-term plan.
Emma Ead is a farmer near St Stephen’s and has been part of the Cornish vaccination scheme for four years.
His farm previously lost around 25 head of cattle to bTB in three years, which he described as “heartbreaking”.
He said: ‘Since the vaccinations started four years ago, we have been tuberculosis free. They trapped seven last year and also tested the badger’s blood, and all those came back negative for tuberculosis, so hopefully that now that they’ve been vaccinated they won’t understand it.
“It’s also very nice to tell members of the public that we are vaccinating badgers, not culling them.
“We are doing the vaccination and these badgers are living.”
In 2021, 188 badgers were vaccinated in Cornwall.
ZSL vaccinators currently operate on around 10% of the trust’s nature reserves but would like to expand this further.
Defra said: “Our bovine TB eradication strategy is working and has resulted in a significant reduction of this disease.
“As a result of the progress made, we are now in a position to move to the next phase of the long-term eradication strategy, including the expansion of badger vaccination projects along with improved cattle testing and work towards developing a vaccine for cattle”.
Rosie Woodroffe, professor at ZSL and head of the Cornwall Badger Project, said: ‘Badgers play a small but important role in the bovine TB problem, and scientists have predicted that their vaccination could help eradicate TB, when combined with controls aimed at livestock.
“As government policy shifts from culling the badger towards vaccinating the badger, the field trials we are gathering should help landowners across the country decide whether to follow the lead of the pioneering farmers working with Cornwall Wildlife Trust and ZSL.”
The trust invites farmers or landowners to contact them if they would like to find out more about vaccination.
Tom Shelley, conservation manager, said: “We’re trying to get a little more interest across the county.
“We have an appeal on our website, to try and raise more money for more badger vaccination. And we also want to hear from those landowners who want to see vaccinated on their land – this is the really important part of enabling us to do more. vaccination throughout Cornwall”.
Follow BBC News South West on Chirping, Facebook And Instagram. Submit your story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.