A badger vaccination programme has started to rid the county of bovine tuberculosis.

Four badgers were vaccinated against the infectious disease in the early hours of Tuesday, the first in Sussex.

The volunteer-run Sussex Badger Vaccination Project (SBVP) is offering to cheaply vaccinate badgers, focusing its efforts in high-risk East Sussex.

The disease is a major problem for cattle and can be passed between cows and badgers. Yesterday volunteers baited traps with peanuts and caught two of the animals in Hempstead Farm, Uckfield, and two in a garden in Oakwood Drive, Uckfield.

Trevor Weeks, lead lay vaccinator for the Sussex Badger Vaccination Project, said the project hoped to catch about 80% of the local badger population each time “which is more than sufficient to make an impact of the spread of bovine tb”.

Kathy Martyn, owner of the Oakwood Drive garden, said she was “delighted” the first two badgers to be vaccinated were in her garden.

She said: “I've had badgers visiting my garden for a number of years on and off and when I found out that the Badger Vaccination Project were vaccinating badgers here I offered my garden to them.”

SBVP said it now had six other farms interested in badger vaccination. Its volunteers will return over the next few years to re-vaccinate the badgers to help build up the herd immunity.