A badger cull in Dorset is looking “increasingly likely”, according to the county’s police and crime commissioner.

Martyn Underhill said a badger cull was a “big thing” on his radar and it could be rolled out in the county in 2015.

He admitted the cull was likely to be controversial and “unsettling” for the community.

“Even without going into whether it’s right or wrong, it does fracture communities,” said Mr Underhill in an interview with the BBC.

“It’s a big thing on my radar. It’s a big thing on my chief constable’s radar. When the cull does arrive we will be all over it.

“We need to make sure the law is complied with, but that people still feel in their communities they’re safe and this doesn’t affect the fear of crime too much.”

An independent panel of experts, which includes a number of wildlife experts, is due to report back on the results of the pilot culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire next month.

Their findings will inform DEFRA secretary Owen Paterson’s decision about whether the cull can be rolled out to at least 10 more regions in 2014.

On Friday (17 January) Natural England said it was seeking applications from culling operators and landowners for licences to cull badgers, as part of government plans to extend the cull in England.

Andy Robertson, NFU director general, said: “We know farmers in many areas will be keen to see this process rolled out in parts of the country where TB is endemic and where there is a clear reservoir of disease in badgers.

“The work that was carried out to make Dorset the reserve area for the pilot badger control operation last year means it may be in a good position to be considered for any wider rollout of the programme.

“The decision on any future areas where badger controls will be carried out will be made by the government subject to the findings of the pilot areas. Badger culls will only ever be carried out in areas where TB is a major problem for cattle producers.”