DEFRA has launched a consultation into the training and licensing of laymen to trap and vaccinate badgers against TB.

As part of the Badger Vaccine Deployment Project, DEFRA proposed to train contractors to trap and vaccinate badgers in six TB hotspot areas, from next summer onwards. However, the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1996 prohibits anyone except a vet from injecting badgers with vaccines, so DEFRA must amend the legislation.

Nicky Paull, former president of the British Veterinary Association, said without trained contractors it would be almost impossible to carry out the vaccination project. “This isn’t a thing that can be done lightly – it is going to have to be done by experienced people who have been fully trained to trap and vaccinate on a regular basis.”

Vets would have input to the training, which would be carried out by the Food and Environment Research Agency, and licensed by Natural England. Responses to the consultation must be received by 8 January 2010.