As we receive reports that shooting has started in Somerset, Dorset Wildlife Trust is deeply disappointed that the government is driving forward with the badger cull in these counties, despite the strength of scientific and public opinion against it.
Dorset still a reserve area for the badger cull
The Government ministry, Defra, have stated that Dorset is a reserve area for the badger cull, and if the Gloucestershire or Somerset culls do not happen for any reason, there is a likelihood that a cull will come to Dorset this year though it is yet to be licenced.
Otherwise our understanding from Defra is that badger culling in Dorset would be highly likely to start next year.
Why cull badgers?
The badger cull is an attempt to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) into cattle. DWT will not allow culling on its land and believes there are more effective alternative methods to control the disease.
Chief Executive of DWT, Dr Simon Cripps, said:
“As an owner of a herd of cattle, 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 suggests that the cull may spread the disease even further. 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.”
Defra’s estimates have found that a badger cull is likely to see at best a 16% net reduction of bTB in cattle, which leaves 84% of the problem not dealt with.
Long term solution should be sought
DWT believes that a long-term solution should be sought, and will continue to support and promote alternative solutions to the problem, such as cattle vaccination, better bio security and in the short-term, badger vaccination. DWT has already invested in badger vaccination to demonstrate there is a viable alternative to culling.
Several DWT staff and volunteers have attended a badger vaccination training course with the aim of vaccinating badgers where feasible on our land.
How you can help
DWT are encouraging members of the public to take action by writing to your local MP to tell them your concerns or if you wish to support our badger vaccination programme, you can donate to our appeal. The e-petition seeking alternatives to badger culling is currently the largest HM Government e-petition ever signed, thanks to support from members of the public. The e-petition is now closed.
Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Sally Welbourn at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620.
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About Dorset Wildlife Trust
Working for a secure future for Dorset’s wildlife enriching the quality of life
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Dorset Wildlife Trust works to champion wildlife and natural places, to engage and inspire people and to promote sustainable living. Founded in 1961, DWT is now the largest voluntary nature conservation organisation in Dorset, with over 25,000 members and over 40 nature reserves. Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows and Brownsea Island Nature Reserves, The Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and the Urban Wildlife Centre at Upton Heath Nature Reserve. DWT plays a key role in dealing with local environmental issues and leads the way in establishing the practices of sustainable development and engaging new audiences in conservation, particularly in the urban areas.