A GROUP of Dorset farmers have applied to Natural England for a licence to be able to kill the badgers that are suspected to carry and infect cattle with bovine tuberculosis (TB).

The Dorset NFU Chairman Trevor Cligg said that cases of TB have increased more in Dorset than any other part of the country in the last three years, causing uproar among campaigners who are advising that vaccinations should be the first option for the protected animal.

Mr Cligg referred to Bovine TB as a 'huge issue' issue across the South West and said they are 'desperate' to control and get rid of the disease but not badgers.

No decision about the cull going ahead has been made yet as the applications are still being processed; however if successful, the cull could start as early as the end of this summer.

Farmers and industry leaders have called for the culls for a number of years, but anti-badger cull campaigners say that a safer, more effective and more humane method way of eradicating the disease is to vaccinate badgers and cows.

It is suspected that the majority of the farming community are striving to get the cull given the go ahead, which has proved very controversial; with the Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) saying they would be deeply saddened if the cull was to go ahead.

In a press release from the trust they said they will not allow badger culling on its nature reserves and they are currently preparing plans to vaccinate badgers, using an injectable vaccine as trialled by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.

It is estimated that 30,000 cows a year are killed due to contracting the bovine TB infection, costing farmers and tax payers alike millions of pounds a year.

The news of this application to cull badgers has had a split response across Dorset.

Some people are saying this cull in 20 years late, but is it really the right option to take without trying vaccinations first?