National Trust members have voted against a resolution to introduce badger vaccination on the charity’s grounds.

The immediate and widespread programme was pitched at an AGM meeting as a way to help tackle bovine TB and prevent the organisation culling badgers in the future.

Despite

the Trust running a vaccination trial on Killerton Estate in Devon, a

vote at the meeting showed members did not think the cull alternative

should get rolled out across the country with 8,694 votes against

vaccination scheme compared to 7,808 for it.

The group insists the decision does not mean that it is pro-cull. National Trust rural enterprise director Patrick Begg says vaccination is still a preference but that the charity needs to take on board the opinions of its members.

He said decisions about the way the National Trust deals with bovine TB on its estates across the country should wait until the results from the vaccination trial and the Government’s cull trial are processed.

“We are in favour of doing what works to solve the problem that is affecting so many of our tenants and farmers across the country. We will judge the outcomes of the pilots, and the Government’s subsequent approach, against the criteria for success set out by Professor Bourne in his review of the Randomised Badger Culling Trial,” he said.

“That is why we are testing the practicalities of vaccination, at our own cost, on our Killerton Estate in Devon. Vaccination is our long term preference, both of badgers and cattle, but our badger vaccination trial at Killerton in Devon is only half way through. It may prove costly and hard to administer in practice.”

The Trust expressed worries about the the effectiveness, humane nature and ‘scientific rigour’ of the DEFRA-approved trial badger culls in West Gloucestershire and West Somerset in a statement released early last week. “We have deep concerns about how useful the Government’s pilot badger culls will now prove,” said Mr Begg.

“And have sought assurances from them that they remain committed to upholding high standards of scientific rigour in the conduct and analysis of the pilots. Changes to the original design has shaken our confidence.”

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