A GOVERNMENT decision to launch a badger cull in an attempt to tackle bovine tuberculosis has been criticised.

Bosses at the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust said the decision to carry out two trials this year is the incorrect way to tackle disease in cattle.

Paul Wilkinson, head of living and landscapes at the organisation, said: “A badger cull is the wrong tool to address this serious and complex problem and a distraction from other measures to tackle bovine TB. An industry-led cull with open shooting in the countryside is untested and these pilots will not provide a scientific evaluation of the impact on bovine TB.

“The rationale for any cull of native species needs to be extremely clear and well proven. We do not believe this is the case with the proposed badger cull.”

Government figures state 25,000 cattle were slaughtered in England last year due to bovine TB, which could cost the taxpayer as much as £1billion over the next 10 years.

The cull decision was made by Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman, who said: “Bovine TB is a chronic and insidious disease which is having a devastating impact on farmers and rural communities.

“Unless further action is taken now, it will continue to get worse. There is a great strength of feeling on this issue and no one wants to see badgers culled.

“But no country in the world where wildlife carries TB has successfully controlled the disease in cattle without tackling its presence in wildlife as well.”

It is not yet known where the trials will be carried out.