FARMERS in Wiltshire have backed a government scientist's advice to cull badgers to prevent the spread of tuberculosis in cattle.

The government's chief scientist Sir David King said killing badgers would be an effective way of reducing outbreaks of the disease in contained areas.

His report follows a previous study that said culling badgers would be ineffective.

The Independent Scientific Group found that targeting one site would only cause badgers to flee to other farms.

Figures from the National Farmers' Union show about 2,500 cows a year get bovine tuberculosis (TB) and 30,000 animals are killed every year because of the disease.

The NFU agreed a cull is necessary to curb TB in cattle.

Farmer Peter Ganblett from Wootton Bassett said farmers had exhausted all the advised preventative measures, including putting feed troughs higher and trying to keep badgers out of buildings.

"All those things we have done to no avail because the one aspect no one has been prepared to look at is the link between cattle and badgers," he said.

"The problem we are up against is everyone has the image of lovely, fluffy badgers galloping about, but cows are also entitled to lives."

Lorraine and Mark Stanton own Vowley Farm, near Wootton Bassett. They keep 42 British White cows on their 110-acre site they have farmed since 2000.

"I would not have a problem with it either way," said Lorraine.

"If an animal is out of balance, it needs to be managed, if it causes a problem it needs to be managed.

"I think the more intensive farming is, the more chance TB could be picked up.

"We have 42 cattle raised intensively and although we live in a high risk TB area in Wiltshire, we have not yet had a problem.

"Vets test them each year for TB and we have had no cases where they have been affected and no animals lost."

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said the issue was "extremely difficult".

It was committed to "evidence-based policy decisions" but no decisions were imminent.

Malcolm Clark from the Wiltshire Badger Group was horrified by the report.

He said: "I'm astounded - it beggars belief to suggest culling. There is no logic to it.

"I really hope the ministers see sense as there is no firm evidence to suggest that badgers carry TB.

"Deer have the potential to spread TB and they can cover large distances. Badgers tend to stay in their sets.

"I just cannot understand the findings in the slightest."