CAMPAIGNERS claim the decreasing number of cattle slaughtered in Dorset due to bovine TB indicates badger culling remains unnecessary.

Figures released by the Government show the number of cattle slaughtered in the county fell by more than 30 per cent in a two-year period.

There was a 37.25 per cent decrease from 1,192 slaughtered cattle in 2012 to 748 in 2014.

Dorset is rumoured to be next on the list to implement a badger cull, following on from pilot badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire.

Whilst some scientists condemned the pilots as ineffective, the Chief Vet, Nigel Gibbens, highlighted the Somerset results showed the approach could be carried out successfully under the right circumstances.

Dorset for Badger and Bovine Welfare is one of the wildlife organisations campaigning against the cull.

Karin Snellock, a spokesman for Dorset for Badger and Bovine Welfare, said the latest figures were being ignored by people determined to roll out a badger cull.

She said: “We feel the public are being led to believe the disease is on the increase, whereas in fact the complete opposite is true.

"This figure is taken from the Government's own statistics. It shows that the current annual testing regime, stricter controls on cattle movement and increase bio-security measures are already making enormous inroads into combating the disease.

"As the threat of a badger cull reaching Dorset becomes more imminent, local wildlife groups are determined to ensure that the relevant facts and figures are not swept aside in the name of political expediency.”

Figures taken from the same dataset published by the Government show 162 new herd incidents reported in Dorset in 2012, 168 new herd incidents reported in 2013 and 167 new herd incidents reported in 2014.

David George, the South West spokesman for the National Farmers' Union said these figures revealed an underlying problem still existed which meant the cull was necessary.

He said: “The NFU position is whilst the stats do seem to show a small drop in the number of cattle slaughtered, which is of course welcome, the number of new incidents of TB in Dorset has remained about the same.

"The underlying problem still exists."

"The only way to get on top of TB is to tackle it in cattle and wildlife, such as badgers, to stop the cycle of re-infection. A cull is still necessary."


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