Seven new badger culling sites approved

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Badger cullImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
The first cull zones were created in 2013 in Somerset and Gloucestershire

Natural England has approved seven new badger culling sites as part of government efforts to control tuberculosis in cattle.

The new areas cover parts of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Devon, Dorset and Cornwall.

Licence holders are allowed to control badger numbers in designated areas between 1 June and 31 January.

Opponents of the cull have previously criticised the practice as "ineffective and inhumane".

Three existing control areas have also been re-authorised for culling to resume in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Dorset.

Natural England has confirmed to the licence holders the minimum and maximum numbers of badgers they can kill.

Government guidance states "all reasonable precautions must be taken to ensure that no badger is subjected to unnecessary suffering" and licence holders must keep a record of their activity.

'Phase out culling'

It follows an announcement made by the government in March, that it would be phasing out culling in favour of vaccinations.

Along with gradually phasing out "intensive culling", the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said trials of a vaccine would take place over the next five years.

On Wednesday a bid by the National Farmers' Union to overturn a government decision not to introduce badger culling in Derbyshire was thrown out of the High Court.

The cull was set to go ahead last winter but the government refused to grant licences to farmers.

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