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  1. ITV Report

Government allows badger culling in 11 new areas

Campaigners argue the badger cull is inhumane and ineffective Credit: PA

The Government has given the go-ahead for badger culling in 11 new areas of England, as part of its drive to tackle tuberculosis in cattle.

Licences for culling across parts of Devon, Wiltshire, Somerset, Dorset and Cheshire were announced, as the Government said it was also restarting a badger vaccination programme to stop spread of the disease to new areas.

In addition, licences for more culling have been granted for areas of Gloucestershire and Somerset which have completed four-year pilot culls introduced to stop the spread of TB from badgers to cattle.

But opponents of culling say it is inhumane and ineffective and vaccinations should be pursued instead.

The Wildlife Trusts' director Steve Trotter said the Government's plans were "flying in the face of science", adding that culling was putting local populations of badgers at risk in affected areas.

A new advisory service is to be launched in the autumn, providing advice to livestock owners in areas at high risk or on the edge of the places suffering the disease.

Farming Minister George Eustice said the cull was part of a "comprehensive strategy" to eradicate the disease over the next 20 years, which includes vaccinations, tighter cattle control and improved bio-security.

Taking action to prevent bovine TB infection of cattle from the reservoir of disease in local badger populations is an essential part of the Government's 25-year strategy to eradicate the disease in England.

Proactive badger control is currently the best available option and the licensing of further areas is necessary to realise disease-control benefits across the high risk area of England, rather than at local levels.

– Nigel Gibbens, Chief vet

In total, culling will be carried out in 21 areas in the south west, west and north west of England this year.