Earlier this summer, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford ruled out any prospect of a badger cull in the country as a means of controlling bovine TB, instead favouring a long-term approach involving the development of a cattle TB vaccine.
Field trials started in England this year on a new vaccine, and a new skin test that can differentiate between vaccinated cattle and those that have the disease.
The work is to be expanded across other farms in England and Wales, with the UK government aiming for a full roll out of a new regime by 2025.
The Welsh example has been frequently cited in recent weeks by local anti-cull campaigners as a “successful approach” that NI should follow, rather than going down the route of removing badgers.
In the end the vaccination programme lasted four years, with 5,210 animals vaccinated at a cost of over £700 per badger
In 2012, the Welsh government decided against following the lead from England around badger culling, opting instead for a five-year badger vaccination programme in a high TB incidence area of approximately 288km² in north Pembrokeshire.
In the end the vaccination programme lasted four years, with 5,210 animals vaccinated at a cost of over £700 per badger.
While TB incidence did fall by 35%, it also fell by 23% in a comparison area.
The Welsh government approach has not been supported by farming leaders
In addition, various cattle controls were put in place in the vaccination area, so it was not clear what role vaccination actually had in the lower incidence rate.
The Welsh government approach has not been supported by farming leaders, who have repeatedly called for a badger cull, pointing to the significantly lower TB incidence rates following culling in England.
They were also angered by comments from First Minister Drakeford who suggested that increasing TB rates in low incidence areas were due to farmers moving in TB infected cattle.