CAMPAIGNERS protesting against the badger cull will march through Dorchester on Saturday May 17.
Organised by Dorset for Badger and Bovine Welfare (DBBW), and supported by national wildlife charities Care for the Wild and the Badger Trust, organisers want people of all ages to take part in a walk through the town centre. Speakers will include leading anti-cull spokesperson Dominic Dyer and Dorset Badger Vaccination Project.
Andrew Butler from DBBW said: “The public have shown time and again that they are dead against these culls and the science has shown that they are a waste of time, money and lives.
" We encourage people to join us for the march in Dorchester and to get actively involved in protecting badgers and bovines by stopping the cull and promoting vaccination of badgers, improved biosecurity on farms and stricter cattle movement controls”.
Dominic Dyer, CEO of the Badger Trust and Policy Advisor to Care for the Wild, said: “I’ve worked in the agriculture and food industry for most of my career, and this is the worst agricultural policy I’ve seen in 30 years.
"I’m sympathetic to farmers, but culling badgers simply won’t work. Ordinary people from around the country have come out to protest against this barbaric cull, and we’re looking forward to seeing many of them come to Dorchester.
“The facts are stacked against a cull. Badgers may pass TB to cattle, but they originally caught it from the cattle themselves – both the origin of this disease and the ultimate solution come from improving farming practices, not killing wildlife – and we’re already seeing the evidence for that. Second, the vast majority of scientific opinion says culling is a pointless exercise which could lead to an increase in the spread of TB. Thirdly, the culls have so far cost over £4000 per dead badger - a disgusting waste of money in every sense. The time has come to stop the cull once and for all.”
But farmers claim Dorset could lose its dairy farming industry if steps are not taken to combat bovine TB.
Meurig Raymond, president of the NFU, spoke out on a visit to the Dorset farm owned by Paul Gould, the county chairman of the union last month.
It followed a devastating herd test revealing a quarter of Mr Gould’s in-calf animals will have to be slaughtered.
Mr Raymond said the NFU will be doubling its efforts to lobby the government to roll out a badger cull in affected counties to tackle a ‘reservoir of disease’ in wildlife.
Mr Gould has farmed a closed herd for more than half a decade, meaning all of the cattle are born and bred on his North Dorset farm.
He believes the source of infection could therefore only come from wildlife.
Mr Raymond said government politics concerning the cull are causing ‘immense anger and frustration’ among farmers.
He added: “Farmers can’t understand how politics has taken over sensible decision making.
“I am calling on the government to have strength in their convictions and drive this policy forward to give farmers hope for the future. Other countries have eradicated the disease, and we need to look to them.
“We will keep fighting.”
The NFU is supportive of badger vaccination, Mr Raymond added, but believes this can only be effective in clean animals living in edge areas, unlike Dorset in which the disease is ‘endemic’.
“We want healthy cattle and healthy wildlife. Consumers nowadays want to see cows out in pastures, but sadly that is where they are most vulnerable because they are coming into contact with diseased wildlife.”
The event takes place between 12-3pm, starting in Borough Gardens before marching down High West Street, with speeches in South Street.