Badger cull targets announced for Gloucestershire and Somerset

badger Natural England has issued authorisation letters for this year's badger cull to take place

A target number of badgers to be killed in this year's pilot cull has been announced.

Authorisation letters for the cull have been issued by Natural England. A minimum of 615 in Gloucestershire and 316 in Somerset need to be killed.

In 2013, 921 badgers were killed in Gloucestershire and 940 in Somerset in a bid to tackle TB in cattle.

The companies carrying out the cull have not announced when it will start this year.

A maximum number of badgers that can be culled this year has been set at 1,091 in Gloucestershire and 785 in Somerset.

Original population estimates for badgers have now been revised by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to 1,904 in Gloucestershire and 1,876 in Somerset.

The four-year pilot cull aims to kill 70% of the initial population to test how effective, humane and safe a cull can be.

An extension to the cull in 2013 in Gloucestershire was ended early as it had not met its target, and the Somerset pilot failed to meet its target even after a three-week extension.

Government ministers and the National Farmers' Union believe culling badgers will curb TB in cattle. Opponents say shooting the animals is not effective and inhumane.

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