Vaccinating badgers against TB in Wales cost more than £700 a badger in 2014, a new report (PDF file) has revealed.
The Welsh government spent £929,540 vaccinating 1,316 badgers in the Intensive Action Area (IAA) in west Wales last year – costing £706 a badger, which is a slight increase on 2013.
This figure consists of costs incurred from staff, training and personal development, vehicles, accommodation, the BCG vaccine and printing and publishing materials.
The overall cost of the five-year project is now estimated at £4.6m – equivalent to £3,400 for every vaccinated badger.
Last year, 718 landowners allowed access on to their land, which amounted to about 260sq km (90% of the IAA) and contained 258 main badger setts.
However, 16 landowners, covering 1.99sq km, denied government workers permission to access their land to vaccinate badgers.
So far, during the first three years of the badger vaccination project, more than 4,000 doses of the vaccination were delivered.
The project is part of Welsh government plans to eradicate TB from cattle in Wales, which includes annual testing, cattle movement restrictions and free biosecurity advice for farmers.
As the fourth year of the project got under way, Wales’ deputy farming minister Rebecca Evans thanked landowners for their co-operation.
She said: “Participation in the project is voluntary and I continue to be grateful for the support and co-operation with our field operatives shown by farmers and landowners in the area.”
The IAA spans 288sq km and is primarily located in north Pembrokeshire, but includes small parts of Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire.
There is a high incidence and prevalence of bovine TB in cattle herds within the area.
The project aims to develop a degree of immunity to bovine TB within the badger population and the government believes should “reduce the potential for the onward spread of infection to cattle and other badgers in the area”.
Welsh government employees who have successfully completed an Animal and Plant Health Agency course on cage trapping and vaccination of badgers by injection carry out vaccination under licence.