TRAPPED badgers will get a needle not a bullet under a new scheme being led by an Oxfordshire ecologist.

Simon Boulter, who is chairman of the Oxfordshire Badger Group, has taken the lead in the Badger Trust’s campaign to help combat bovine TB, not by killing badgers but by vaccinating them.

He and several other members of Badger Trust have become qualified to inject the BCG vaccine into badgers and he said he hoped to use volunteers to help with the vaccination work (surveys, trap setting, pre-baiting etc.) as much as possible.

The project is under way now that a farmer in Worcestershire has agreed that the Badger Trust can vaccinate badgers on his land against bovine TB.

In September, volunteers from local county badger groups surveyed the farm and found a number of active badger setts; a licence has been obtained from Natural England, and vaccination will start in the next couple of weeks.

Mr Boulter said that other farmers around the country had shown interest and further vaccinations in other areas wouldl follow before the end of 2011.

He said: “ I believe that with care and goodwill there can be an effective programme of trapping and vaccination that will avoid both the problems and the controversy involved in a cull.

“Some farmers however point to the higher cost of vaccination over shooting, and question whether vaccination will be effective in the short term.”