BADGERS in Stroud are amongst the first to be vaccinated against bovine tuberculosis now that the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust has begun a pioneering campaign to prevent the disease spreading to cattle.

The trust is opposed to culling badgers and began vaccinating them last week in its nature reserves.

Supporters of a widespread cull say the campaign will be ineffective, but those who believe the disease is carried from cow to cow are in favour of the trial which is being pioneered by the trust.

Emma Bradshaw, a spokesman from Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust said the spread of Bovine TB would not be halted by a mass culling.

Instead, for the next three months the trust will be luring badgers into traps with peanuts and injecting them with the vaccine.

To prevent the badgers from being vaccinated twice, they are marked.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is currently deciding whether there should be another badger cull in England.

Meanwhile the Welsh Assembly scrapped badger cull plans in June to the dismay of angry farmers who believe the disease will spread.

The disease raged through England last year and led to the slaughter of nearly 25,000 cattle.

Policy adviser for the National Farmers’ Union, John Royle, said: "While there is evidence demonstrating a positive effect resulting from badger culling, the same cannot be said for vaccination.

"Unfortunately there is no evidence to support the theory that vaccinating badgers will lead to a reduction in the disease in cattle.

"It would take many years for vaccination to have any meaningful impact, particularly in the areas where the TB in cattle is high and many of the badgers are already infected.

"We believe co-ordinated control of badgers in those areas is the most effective way of dealing with this terrible disease, for both cattle and badgers."

Gloucestershire Badger Group chairman Tony Dean said badgers had been culled in their thousands since the 1980s in the south west and Midlands and doing so had had no effect on the Bovine TB issue.

"I am all for the trust doing this but I wish it had started years ago. Cattle should also be vaccinated but the EU will not accept vaccinated meat," he said.