THE Dorset for Badger and Bovine Welfare group has welcomed news that badger culls targets were missed.

Organiser Ian Mortimer said: “The Government based its case for culling on badger numbers and TB rates in cattle which they have since admitted were over-estimated. The culls also failed to reach anything like the targets set by the Government. Nevertheless, Secretary of State for the Environment, Owen Paterson has declared his inten-tion of rolling out more badger culls in 2014 and beyond.”

Trial culls were carried out in Somerset and Gloucestershire last year and had to be extended after targets were missed.

Dorset was earmarked as a reserve site in case either trial could not go ahead and farmers have expressed an interest in bringing a cull to the county if the trials are proved successful.

Dorset Wildlife Trust has begun its own project to vaccinate badgers.

Mr Mortimer said: “We promote vaccination as an effective and lower-cost way of reducing TB in cattle.”

“It cost well over £2,000 per badger in policing costs alone to kill them, but the Welsh Government spent only £661 per badger to vaccinate.

“The Coalition Government has so far refused to take up the vaccination option, so in Dorset we are offering vaccination to farmers at £20 per badger.

“Volunteers are already being trained and more will follow if the culls are abandoned.

“We doubt if many farmers would object to a vaccination programme. “It would eliminate any hostility there has been between those for and against the culls.

“There would also be no need for expensive policing, so we could all go to bed at a reasonable hour, police as well as protestors.”

Dorset farmers and landowners interested in vaccinating badgers can get in touch with the vaccination group via their website, by emailing vaccination@dorset or by calling them on 0750 369 1765.

n Wildlife campaigners are celebrating the return of some iconic woodland creatures to a Dorset landmark.

Artwork badgers have once again been spotted on the Hall and Woodhouse Brewery sponsored roundabout on the Blandford by-pass.

The creatures were made from chicken wire by artist Helen Godfrey after earlier sculptures were removed three years ago after being damaged by vandals.