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Dryad

Vaccinating badgers in a post-cull landscape; insights from the field

Cite this dataset

Benton, Clare; Phoenix, Jessica; Robertson, Andy; Delahay, Richard (2023). Vaccinating badgers in a post-cull landscape; insights from the field [Dataset]. Dryad. https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.w3r2280vg

Abstract

In 2010 the BadgerBCG vaccine was licensed for use in badgers in the UK to reduce the severity of Mycobacterium bovis infection, and hence the risks of onward transmission to cattle. To date badger vaccination in the UK has been deployed at a relatively limited spatial scale (compared to the large scale badger culls) and almost exclusively in high density badger populations which have not been recently culled. UK Government policy direction has moved towards the wider roll-out of badger vaccination as an exit strategy following culling. Field resources required to carry out vaccination in undisturbed badger populations are well documented, but levels of effort are unlikely to be directly transferable to previously culled populations where badger density and social behaviour may be markedly different. We present an evidence based assessment of the likely effort required to vaccinate badger populations that have recently been culled, drawing on data from past culling operations, vaccination operations in a previously culled area and the practical field experiences of expert badger trappers. Trapping efficiency declined over successive years of industry-led culling, however this effect was not consistently noted in the government-run Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT). Fewer badgers were removed using cage-trapping (compared to ‘controlled shooting’) in the latter years of intensive industry-led culls. When trapping badgers for vaccination in areas that had previously been culled, highly experienced government field staff adapted their practices in response to the lower density and likely more mobile residual population. A longer and more variable pre-baiting period was expected and there was a greater reliance on higher levels of skill and experience in interpreting field signs and trapping effectively in such populations.

Methods

Please see the README document and the accompanying published article (Benton et al., 2023 Vaccinating badgers in a post-cull landscape; insights from the field) along with the Supplementary Materials for full details of the methods of data collection and processing.

Usage notes

Data are stored as .csv files. All modeling in the publication was carried out in R v 4.0.2.

Funding

Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs