BADGERS on Poole Council land should be safe if a government cull is extended to Dorset after the council voted to ban killing the mammals on its property.

A huge petition signed by more than 1,300 people opposing the culling of badgers on council land was presented by Poole resident Paul Watkins, as part of the Operation Badger campaign.

It called on the council to: “Prohibit the culling of badgers on council-owned land and invest in vaccination programmes locally. We ask this because we believe culling to be inhumane, inefficient and unscientific.”

Dorset is believed to be next on the government’s list if it decides to extend the culling trial in a bid to stop the spread of bovine TB.

However it is not known if a Dorset cull would include the unitary authorities of Poole and Bournemouth.

The council believes that it has approximately 12-14 badger setts on land it owns and there are thought to be around 100 badgers on or near sites grazed by livestock in Poole.

Liberal Democrat councillors narrowly won a vote to prohibit the culling of badgers against Conservative and UKIP members who supported a review of the council’s position should the government propose a cull in Poole.

Members also recommended that any decision on vaccinating badgers be delegated to the head of environmental and consumer protection services, with no action to be taken at present.

Dorset Wildlife Trust, which opposes culling, began vaccinating badgers on its nature reserves in 2013.

Cllr Mike Brooke, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Borough of Poole, said: “We think it’s important that we protect our badgers, culling is inhumane and all the evidence points to it not being worth the expense.”