BADGER culls could come to Dorset later this year.

It follows an announcement by Environment Secretary Liz Truss who told the National Farmers Union conference the controversial culls would continue if the Conservatives win the General Election.

That means badgers in Dorset could be next in the firing line.

The government is assessing the results of controversial pilot badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire, which have been condemned as ineffective by scientists.

It has been indicated that Dorset is top of the list if the culls are rolled out. The Chief Vet highlighted that the Somerset results showed that the approach could be carried out successfully.

Wildlife campaigners believe that badger culling is not the way to reduce bovine tuberculosis (TB) in cattle and there should be a government-funded programme of badger vaccination. West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin said: “Bovine TB is not only a terrible animal welfare issue, it is also an absolute nightmare for our hard-pressed dairy farmers.

“We need to do everything we can to remove this disease.

“That means tight movement controls, pressing ahead with work on trial vaccines and carrying forward the evidence-based trial culling programme.”

Mr Letwin was visited by members of Dorset for Badger and Bovine Welfare at his surgery earlier this month who urged him to back vaccination instead of culling.

The group wants politicians of all parties support the alternative route of badger vaccination.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive of Dorset Wildlife Trust Simon Cripps has said rolling out the cull would be 'flying in the face of scientific evidence'.

Communications officer for DWT Sally Welbourn said: “Dorset Wildlife Trust does not allow badger culling on our land and would be very disappointed if the government decided to drive forward with their culling policy in Dorset."

She added:“We are pleased to have received fantastic public support for our badger vaccination programme, which is now in its second year."

“We believe that alternatives to culling should be explored, including badger vaccination, and also developing a cattle vaccine, which are both safe and humane alternatives to culling badgers.”

Dorset farmers have said that many have already gone out of business because of TB and more will do so unless badgers in the county are culled to halt the spread of the disease.