EFFORTS by activists against the badger cull in west Dorset have captured the attention of one of the country’s most loved conservationists and wildlife presenters.

Bill Oddie joined a badger patrol team ahead of National Badger Day on Thursday – an initiative to raise awareness of badger protection issues and spread information.

For the past five weeks, members of Dorset for Badger and Bovine Welfare (DBBW) have been meeting in Bridport and across the wider county every night for the 'wounded badger' patrols.

DBBW, a local grassroots group is run by volunteers, aims each night to set trapped badgers free and rescue any already wounded by the cull. If a team come across a cage, they trip the cages so badgers can’t be caught.

On Monday night, Mr Oddie joined the animal welfare activists and leader Ian Mortimer, from West Milton, to highlight what they claim is an ‘inhumane cull’.

Bill Oddie addressed the volunteers in a Bridport car park to thank them for their efforts.

Mr Oddie said: “I remember when all this ghastly business started and I’m here to say thanks to the people who don’t just let it slide and to show this is still an ongoing thing.”

He claimed the badger cull wasn’t the way to solve diseases spreading amongst cattle, saying: “It’s turned into this nasty posh school boy thing” – a reference to what he claimed was the people pushing for the cull.

The 75-year-old presenter talked about his changing emotions towards the controversial cull.

He said: “The emphasis changes as you get older. Nowadays it’s anger at the awful things human beings do and that includes the government policy on badgers. There is so much wickedness – it’s a shocking old world really.”

The group claim they have met opposition from some people supporting the cull. Slashed tyres, smashed windscreens and ‘aggressive’ behaviour are allegedly just some of the things members claim they have had to face.

Claire Bass, UK director of Humane Society International (HSI) travelled from London to join the badger patrol.

She said: “We’re here to support the compassionate people of Dorset who are concerned for the wildlife.

“We take our hats off to them – night after night they are in the cold so they can help the badgers and bear witness to what is going on.

“The cull is not only failing badgers, but farmers and the public purse too.”

HSI said it costs around £5,000 for every badger shot. Just under 4,000 badgers were killed by the end of 2015. HSI believes that by the end of this year, if maximum targets are achieved, 18,192 badgers will have been killed since the start of the cull.

Mr Mortimer claimed: “There is no science that supports the badger cull at all, that’s the message we try to put across. The cull is a knee-jerk reaction since 1975 – 41 years on and they have just learned nothing.”

He added: “The worst thing we found was a badger in a cage trap still there at 2pm the following day. This idea that they kill badgers ‘cleanly’ all the time is completely untrue.

“Human beings just do what they like – it’s disgraceful and despicable what we do to the species living alongside us.”