THE chairman of Oxfordshire Badger Group has said she was 'absolutely devastated' to learn that badger culling could be brought to the county.

Julie Hammett called the government-backed culling 'state-sponsored cruelty' and urged people to respond to a consultation on plans to allow it in Oxfordshire for the first time.

She said: "I'm absolutely devastated: Oxfordshire's badgers are under huge pressure already from development.

"This is state-sponsored cruelty, this is the biggest wildlife crime ever and we're paying for it.

"It's nonsense, the science doesn't add up, but we have the NFU dictating policy.

"I'm so annoyed."

The government launched a two-week consultation on Monday after an Oxfordshire landowner or landowners applied for a licence to kill badgers.

The government has been giving farmers licences since 2013 in an effort to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis which is carried by the burrowing mammals.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) supports culling because of the harm that TB can do to cattle herds and said the method had proved successful.

Mrs Hammett said that by allowing culling the government was 'dismantling' the 1992 Protection of Badgers Act.

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