Anger at badger's 'cruel' death in cull zone

X-ray of badger 41 showing bullet wound Image copyright Secret World
Image caption The dead female badger was discovered by an anti-cull patrol inside the Somerset cull zone

A badger found shot in the abdomen inside the west Somerset cull zone suffered a "cruel and unacceptable" death, anti-cull campaigners have said.

The female badger was taken to Secret World Wildlife Rescue Centre where vets confirmed it was shot in the abdomen not the target area of the chest.

A second year of badger culling is under way in Gloucestershire and Somerset in a bid to tackle bovine TB.

But a farmers' union said there was no evidence it died as part of the cull.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) did not want to comment on the matter.

More than 26,000 cattle were killed in England last year because of TB.

Image copyright Secret World
Image caption An X-ray of badger 41 shows fragments of shot visible in the back of the abdomen missing the chest area
Image copyright Secret World
Image caption A detailed post-mortem is due to be carried out on the animal

After the first year of the badger cull, an independent panel of experts found "controlled shooting" was not humane.

The report the panel produced also found controlled shooting could not deliver the level of culling needed to bring about a reduction of TB in cattle.

Consultant veterinary surgeon at Secret World Dr Elizabeth Mullineaux said the shot was "clearly not on target" and the animal - dubbed badger 41 - was unlikely to have died immediately.

A detailed post-mortem examination will now be carried out on the animal.

Dominic Dyer, of the Badger Trust and Care for the Wild, said because the bullet missed the vital organs badger 41 would have taken several minutes to die.

"This is appalling, it's cruel and it's unacceptable," he said.

But a spokesman for the National Farmers' Union (NFU) said: "There is no evidence that this badger died as part of the cull.

"We would suggest that it [the badger] is handed over to the proper authorities in order that they can do a post-mortem examination to determine the cause of death.

"All badgers shot as part of the cull have been accounted for."

In 2013, 921 badgers were killed in Gloucestershire and 940 in Somerset.

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

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