BADGER culling operations are to be extended in Dorset – with public comment now only open for a couple of days.

Natural England has received applications for supplementary licences to cull badgers to prevent the spread of bovine TB. These are licences for areas that have already completed a licensed 4-year intensive cull and include Dorset, Somerset, Devon, Avon and Wiltshire.

Comments will be limited to how a badger cull in the area could affect an individual, or business activities – and not the general principles of culling badgers.

The Government website says that comments on the application for the supplementary licences is to close at one minute to midnight on February 21st – but gives no exact details of where the culls are likely to take place.

Natural England, which is holding the consultation, says that it will “take account of any representations received after the deadline and before any decision to grant a licence is made which arises from a change in personal circumstances or new local considerations after the deadline…

“The opportunity to comment is not to be used to declare views for or against the Bovine TB policy. If your comment is not regarding impacts to your livelihood or daily activities, you should contact the relevant authority, Defra.”

Natural England says any relevant comments made about the applications will be shared with the applicant to allow them to consider appropriate mitigation measures before completing the licence application.

The public body says that culling only takes place on land with the landholder’s knowledge and permission.

“It is possible that badger control will be undertaken on parcels of land that are near to or adjoining public rights of way, roads and dwellings. All persons licensed to control badgers will be in possession of a Police-issued Firearm Certificate and/or Shotgun Certificate and will have a responsibility to ensure that shooting is conducted in a safe direction with a suitable earth backstop. Although licensed badger control has been conducted since 2013, covering over fifty cull operations, there have been no safety related incidents.

“As such, comments and concerns regarding the safety of walking, riding, working and/or surveying in areas of a licensed cull will not generally be forwarded to the applicant since they are considered by Natural England in the licence assessment to ensure adequate mitigation measures are in place.”

Exactly where the extended culls are likely to take place remains a mystery: “Natural England will not release maps or other information revealing the positions of the boundaries for each cull area. We are unable to release exact details of any control areas, individual land holdings or participants because of concerns for public safety and data protection legislation,” said a statement on its consultation webpages.

The consultation can be found at

A summary of the comments will be published on the Gov.UK website.