Dorset sites earmarked for trial badger cull
BADGER culls could be carried out in Dorset this year in a bid to halt the spread of Bovine TB.
Bovine TB costs Britain £100 million a year and culls of cattle and restrictions on cattle movements has ruined farming businesses.
Pilot culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire have been authorised by government agency Natural England after final licence conditions were met.
A scheme in Dorset is being prepared as a reserve to prevent further delays.
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NFU president Peter Kendall has backed the cull and called for a full roll-out in 2014.
He described the 35,000 cattle that had to be slaughtered because of the disease as a "scandalous waste".
Dorset Wildlife Trust has condemned plans to establish reserve badger cull sites in the county.
Simon Cripps, chief executive of Dorset Wildlife Trust, said: "We have a great deal of sympathy for farmers who lose stock as a result of bTB and are acutely aware of the problems this disease causes in Dorset. However, a badger cull is not the answer and is likely to make the problem worse by spreading the disease onto farms previously unaffected."
Dorset Wildlife Trust believes TB should be tackled on multiple fronts, including vaccines for badgers and cattle and use of biosecurity measures to prevent transmission between cattle.
The Trust is currently planning to vaccinate badgers, using an injectable vaccine as trialled by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.
The trial cull has received opposition from the RSPCA and former Queen guitarist Brian May, who has bought farmland in Dorset to create nature reserves for his Save Me charity. The musician made national headlines earlier this year after allowing deer to be shot on his land despite his opposition to the proposed cull of badgers to combat bovine TB.