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Badger cull to be extended to Dorset

The government has announced there is to be a badger cull in Dorset this year. Credit: Ben Birchall / PA Wire

The South West's controversial badger cull is to be extended to Dorset.

Several farmers had applied for a licence to kill the animals, which are thought to infect cattle with bovine TB.

The government says extending the cull is part of a long-term strategy to beat the disease - but protestors argue that existing culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire (which are to be repeated this year) are ineffective and fail to meet their targets.

“England has the highest incidence of TB in Europe and that is why we are taking strong action to deliver our 25-year strategy to eradicate the disease and protect the future of our dairy and beef industries.

“This includes strengthening cattle testing and movement controls, vaccinating badgers in the buffer zone around high-risk areas, and culling badgers where the disease is rife.

“Our approach of dealing with the disease in cattle and wildlife has worked overseas and is supported by leading vets.”

– Farming Minister George Eustice

A wildlife charity which is strongly against the cull has recently awarded a grant to a badger vaccination programme in Dorset.

Brian May taking part in an anti-badger-cull protest in Bristol. Credit: PA

Earlier this week an animal welfare charity - founded by Queen guitarist Brian May - threatened legal action if the badger cull goes ahead for a third year.

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Dorset Wildlife Trust 'disappointed' by badger cull application

The Wildlife Conservation Charity has been carrying out a badger vaccination programme. Credit: Wild Stock

Dorset Wildlife Trust have expressed their disappointed about applications submitted to Natural England to cull badgers later this year.

They work to actively support and promote alternative solutions to badger culling in order to control the spread of Bovine Tuberculosis.

Now in its third year, the wildlife conservation charity has been carrying out a badger vaccination programme in West and North Dorset.

Dorset Wildlife Trust is extremely sympathetic to the farmers whose cattle are affected by this devastating disease, but we urge the Government to consider the scientific evidence which indicates that the cull will not reduce Bovine Tuberculosis in cattle.

The problem could even be made worse as increasing the movement of potentially infected badgers into an area cleared of badgers could risk contact between them and uninfected cattle.

– Chief Executive, Dr Simon Cripps

Dorset badger cull application submitted to Natural England

Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

An application to cull badgers in Dorset has been submitted to Natural England.

A number of farmers hope to obtain a licence to kill the animals, which are thought to infect cattle with Bovine TB.

Similar culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire proved controversial, and failed to meet their targets.

Earlier this week, volunteers in the county were given a grant by a wildlife charity to continue their programme of vaccinating badgers against the disease.

Anti-badger-cull charity awards money to vaccinating volunteers

The Dorset Badger Vaccination Project is free to farmers. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Badgers will continue to be vaccinated against TB in Dorset, after volunteers were given a grant by a wildlife charity to carry on.

The Dorset Badger Vaccination Project offers a free service to farmers and landowners. Last year they vaccinated more than 80 badgers across the county. The volunteers say they would not be able to continue their work after 2015 without the money from the International Fund For Animal Welfare.

The IFAW is "strongly opposed" to the government's badger cull, and sees vaccination as a humane alternative.

The volunteers say a growing number of farmers are approaching them about their services.

Listen to Bob's baby badgers in Bath

Our weatherman Bob Crampton turned a bit David Attenborough after he was woken at 3am this morning, 17 June, by the cries of baby badgers at his home in Bath.

He went to investigate the noise and, when he discovered that a mother badger was trying to rescue her three cubs from behind a garden wall, recorded what was going on.

He has even provided the commentary in the style of our favourite wildlife broadcaster. Have a listen.

The badger picture by the way is not one of Bob's but from our files.

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Protesters try to disrupt badger cull

Marksmen were out in Somerset and Gloucestershire last night as the second badger cull got underway. The government confirmed shooting has started as part of its controversial attempt to prevent the spread of bovine TB in cattle.

This year targets have been lowered to 316 badgers in Somerset, and 615 in Gloucestershire. Overall the aim is for a reduction of 70 per cent in badger populations over the successive culls.

Protesters were also out in both counties trying to disrupt the cull.

Labour MP says Government should listen to the evidence

Maria Eagle MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary Credit: PA

Labour's Shadow Environment Secretary has spoken out against the Government's decision to resume culling in Gloucestershire and Somerset.

She says the Government should listen to the scientific evidence and put an end to what she calls 'disastrous badger culls'.

Last year an Independent Expert Panel concluded that these badger culls were ‘ineffective’ and ‘inhumane’, and more recently they have been described as an ‘epic failure’ by the Chief Scientific Advisor to Natural England. But instead of abandoning these appalling culls the Government have chosen to press ahead without any further independent expert monitoring.

Labour has consistently said that to get Bovine TB under control we need to bring in stricter cattle measures and prioritise badger and cattle vaccinations, but these culls are not the answer.

– Maria Eagle MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary
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