The Welsh Assembly has started the consultation process required before passing legislation needed to allow a limited badger cull.

While it would be possible to licence farmers or other individuals to undertake the work under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, the Welsh Assembly government wants to manage and deliver the cull itself.

To do this it requires secondary legislation under the Animal Health Act 1981. The proposed legislation would also provide powers of entry to vaccinate badgers in the future.

The consultation will be on the proposed Tuberculosis Eradication (Wales) Order 2009.

But a cull would be part of a comprehensive programme that includes a reduction in the number of overdue tests on cattle, moving infected animals off farms quicker and improved biosecurity measures.

Three Regional Eradication Delivery Boards have also been set up to develop and co-ordinate local solutions to the disease, which it is projected could cost Wales £80m a year in compensation by 2014.