Welsh Badger TB vaccination gets under way
A vaccination programme to prevent TB spreading through cattle in west Wales has started, with 275 badgers, suspected to be the carriers of the disease, so far injected.
An earlier plan to cull badgers was scrapped in March.
The Welsh government said vaccination formally started in a TB hotspot in west Wales on Monday and would continue throughout the summer.
It is the first time vaccination has been tried on such a scale in Wales.
It is being carried out in an intensive action area (IAA) where the previous Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition Welsh government wanted to cull badgers.
The IAA is primarily located in north Pembrokeshire, but includes small parts of Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire.
The Welsh government said last year it was one of the areas with the highest incidence of bovine TB in Europe.
But the now Labour-run administration scrapped the cull, saying scientific evidence supported vaccinating badgers.
The decision angered political opponents and agricultural unions who say the disease has a devastating impact on cattle farms.
Environment Minister John Griffiths said the disease had to be dealt with in wildlife if it was going to be eradicated.
"I am pleased that following my March decision to vaccinate badgers we have been able to move very swiftly and have now begun rolling out our vaccination programme in the intensive action area," he said.
"Our decision to pursue a vaccination programme has enabled us to take quick and decisive action aimed at developing a degree of immunity to TB within the badger population.
"We believe that this will reduce the risk of TB transmission from badgers to cattle.
"I would like to thank farmers and landowners for their co-operation. We will be monitoring the results of vaccination, and of our whole eradication programme, carefully to ensure we are making good progress towards our ultimate goal of a TB free Wales."