DORSET is again facing the possibility of a badger cull.
Following reports that a cull is set to be rolled out in the county later this year, the Department for Rural Affairs (Defra) has insisted that ‘no decision has been made’.
Results of the trial culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire have yet to be officially released but opponents say they missed targets on how many badgers were killed, and that some were killed inhumanely.
Farmers in Dorset are broadly in support of a cull in the county, where livestock has been badly affected by bovine TB.
Dorset was a reserve site in case either of the trial culls last year could not go ahead.
The Dorset Wildlife Trust, which has begun its own programme of vaccinating badgers, welcomed news last week that MPs supported a motion put forward in the House of Commons to halt the policy on culling.
However, culls could still go ahead, despite the success of the motion.
A spokesperson for Defra said: “Bovine TB is the most pressing animal health problem in the UK and causes untold misery to our beef and dairy farmers.
“The government remains determined to tackle bovine TB by all available means which is why we have outlined a 25-year plan to eradicate this disease by addressing infection in both cattle and wildlife which was debated and approved by Parliament last year. We are considering the findings of the independent expert panel before a decision is made on making further licences to cull badgers available.”
Paul Gould, Dorset County Chairman of the National Farmers Union (NFU), said: “From what I’ve heard people have come to the conclusion that the cull will be coming to Dorset but until the official announcement is made we can’t be certain. There’s always going to be speculation but the decision is expected shortly.”
Campaigners remain opposed to a cull in Dorset and the Badger and Bovine Welfare Group, which is based in the county, is also running a programme to vaccinate badgers.
Speaking on behalf of the group Andy Hamilton said: “This is sad but not unexpected news for Dorset badgers. The three main planks of this ramshackle policy – that it would be effective, humane and eradicate bovine TB – have been shown to be rotten. We could be looking at the disappearance of badgers from parts of Dorset altogether.”