A CRY rang out above Dorchester as hundreds gathered to protest against badger culls.

Organisers of the peaceful march say they want to help farmers tackle the spread of bovine TB through methods that don’t mean badgers have to die.

Shoppers looked on as between 400 to 500 people from across the country marched through High West Street and South Street.

Town crier Alistair Chisholm joined in by giving an anti-badger cull cry.

Although the possibility of culls in Dorset has been put on hold until 2015, protesting groups say the public needs to stay on top of what is going on.

They say there is ‘growing public feeling’ against badger culls.

Andrew Butler, from Dorset for Badger and Bovine Welfare said: “MP Owen Paterson has been very clear that he wanted to roll the cull out to 10 counties and we have very clear indications that Dorset is at the top of the list.

“The government hasn’t been able to roll out the culls because the trials have been a complete and utter failure.

“It had no option but to stop the roll-out but that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to try next year.

“We feel the best course of action is to be prepared.

“Events like today are about keeping the public in the loop about what is going on and promote the badger vaccination programme.”

He said teams of volunteers are signing up to train to vaccinate badgers so that they can help Dorset farmers if they decide it is ‘a real and effective alternative’ to the cull.

People came from Bristol, Gloucester, Somerset and the New Forest to join in the march.

The protesters said they want better control of livestock, more rigorous TB testing and vaccination as an alternative to the badger cull.

They argue that vaccination is more effective and Dominic Dyer, chairman of the Badger Trust, said TB rates in cattle in Wales have dropped 48 percent over the last five years using these methods.

He gave a speech to crowds in the middle of South Street and later told the Echo: “This is the 17th march we’ve had around the country in six months.

“Many people here have never marched before but feel so passionate about this issue they want to make their voices heard.

“We want to bring this issue to the attention to people around the country; this is the biggest rallying wildlife campaign in Europe.”

Mr Dyer said that many of the MPs who voted for a cull have now changed their minds and some have been to see the work that was being done on alternatives to the cull.

Farmers in Dorset say the county could lose its dairy farming industry if steps are not taken to tackle the spread of TB. 

As reported in the Echo, president of the National Farmers' Union Meurig Raymond said it would be doubling its efforts to lobby the government. 

His words came after NFU Dorset chairman Paul Gould discovered around a quarter of his in-calf animals would have to be slaughtered after contracting the disease.