A CONTROVERSIAL badger cull set to return to Dorset for a second year has been widely condemned by wildlife lovers.

As reported last week, the cull, which began last year and saw 756 badgers killed in the north of the county, is being extended to West Dorset.

The aim of the four–year cull is to reduce the number of cases of bovine TB among cattle - a disease carried by badgers, it is claimed by some.

Many animal welfare groups and charities oppose the move, and say there is ‘not enough evidence’ to support the cull.

Ian Mortimer, of Dorset for Badger and Bovine Welfare (DBBW), said: “We are extremely disappointed by this news. I don’t believe there is a single piece of British science which supports the cull.

“I am disgusted by the lies and misinformation being spread.

If we don’t listen to the truth, we’re never going to solve the problem. We need to support the farmers and they are being lied to.”

DBBW will walk the footpaths around the cull, which it says is a law-abiding way to protest.

David Bowles, RSPCA assistant director of public affairs, said: “The RSPCA, along with many other animal welfare and veterinary organisations and scientific experts, has always maintained that culling is not the answer to solving the devastating problem of bovine TB. In fact, it is more likely to make the problem worse.”

Last year, almost 1,000 cattle were slaughtered in Dorset as a result of the disease. But Dominic Dyer, chief executive of welfare charity the Badger Trust, says badgers are not to blame.

Mr Dyer said: “We could kill every badger in England but bovine TB would continue to spread in cattle herds, due to inaccurate TB testing, excessive numbers of cattle movements and poor biosecurity controls.”

A spokesman for Defra said: “England has the highest incidence of TB in Europe and that is why we are taking strong action to deliver our 25-year strategy to eradicate the disease and protect the future of our dairy and beef industries.

“Badger control in areas where TB is rife is one part of our long-term plan, which also includes strengthening cattle testing and movement controls and improving biosecurity.”