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Badger cull confirmed in Dorset

PUBLISHED: 12:16 15 September 2015 | UPDATED: 14:51 15 September 2015

Photo by Stewart Canham

Photo by Stewart Canham

Archant

The controversial badger cull, now in its third year in Somerset and Gloucestershire, is underway for the first time in Dorset.

Last year over 32,000 TB-infected cattle had to be destroyed and badgers, according to DEFR A, are believed to the main culprit in spreading the disease in cattle. The current numbers expected to be shot in Dorset under the four year licence, granted by Natural England, range from a minimum of 615 to a maximum of 835. The cull, which is to last six weeks, is already underway. Figures released earlier this week by DEFRA revealed that the cost per badger during the two pilot culls was £6,775.

The Dorset Wildlife Trust, a conservation charity, with over 25,000 members, has said that they will not allow badger culling on any of its 44 nature reserves. DWT’s Chief Executive, Dr Simon Cripps said: “The decision to carry out a badger cull in Dorset flies in the face of scientific evidence, public opinion and the wishes of parliament. The culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire have already shown to be neither effective nor humane, and as a result, a failure.”

The Wildlife Trust started their own five-year badger vaccination programme back in 2013 on selected DWT nature reserves in west and north Dorset, in order to demonstrate that there are viable alternatives to badger culling.

“Dorset Wildlife Trust owns a herd of cattle itself, so we understand how deeply concerned farmers in Dorset are for their livestock contracting this terrible disease,” said Dr Cripps. “We will continue to support alternatives to culling that have a far better chance of restricting the disease.”

Queen guitarist and wildlife activist, Brian May, who owns land in Bere Regis which he is turning into a woodland wildlife sanctuary, has written to Natural England, to ask them to revoke the licences in all three counties while he seeks a judicial review.

“This is a tragedy for our farmers, cattle and wildlife,” said Dr May. “The scientific advice has been ignored by ministers with more badgers set to die again this year.”

What do you think about the badger cull in Dorset? How would you address the TB crisis affecting our farmers? Email the editor helen.stiles@archant.co.uk

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