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Badger vaccination suspended

Vaccinating badgers was introduced as a less controversial alternative to shooting them in an attempt to stop TB infecting cattle Credit: PA

The Welsh Government has suspended its flagship programme to vaccinate badgers against TB, which can spread to cattle. Vaccination was introduced after previous plans to shoot badgers in affected areas were abandoned. But there's a global vaccine shortage and the World Health Organisation has appealed to governments to let preventing TB in humans take priority.

Bovine TB is a serious animal health issue ... however, public health must always take priority, and until the supply situation is resolved our badger vaccination projects currently underway in Wales ... will be suspended. This does not mean that the hard work of the previous years will have been wasted. We have successfully administered more than 5,500 doses during that time.

– Deputy Minister for Farming and Food Rebecca Evans AM

The vaccination scheme was introduced after the 2011 Assembly election in parts of west Wales where TB in cattle is endemic. It replaced a planned badger cull proposed by Plaid Cymru's Elin Jones when she was the Rural Affairs Minister in coalition with Labour. Trial culls have since been held in England.

This is shocking news that will make a complete mockery of the vaccination trial. The Labour government should be ashamed that it could have let this happen.

Four years ago, many of us argued for a different approach but the government was insistent on vaccination. Now there is a risk that we will have wasted four years.

– Plaid Cymru Rural Affairs Spokesperson Llyr Gruffydd AM

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Welsh Government: 'Issue of illegally killing badgers is matter for police'

The Welsh Government is committed to eradicating Bovine TB, one of the biggest health problems facing cattle farmers in Wales.

There is no quick fix to tackling this disease. It demands a sustainable and long term approach and the application of a comprehensive range of measures including strict biosecurity , cattle testing and movement controls. Last year we vaccinated over 1,400 badgers against TB and will resume vaccination later this year.

"Badgers are protected animals in the UK and the issue of illegally killing them is therefore a matter for the police.

– Welsh Government spokesperson