- 6 updates
Badger culls are to continue in one of the areas where the controversial measure has been trialled.
Natural England said a new licence authorises a three-week control operation to be carried out in west Somerset this autumn, while an application to extend it in the second area - west Gloucestershire - has also been received.
It comes after the action, intended to limit the spread of bovine tuberculosis, was this week condemned as a "farce" after ministers admitted that not enough animals are being killed.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson's explanation that a pilot cull failed to reach its target because "badgers moved the goalposts" has been ridiculed on Twitter.
His comments inspired the online game: "Owen Paterson's Badger Penalty Shootout."
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson told the BBC "badgers moved the goalposts" when he was asked why the pilot cull failed to reach its target.
A badger cull in west Somerset has been extended in a bid to make up for the shortfall.
When asked why he had "moved the goalposts" and claimed the cull was a success, Mr Paterson said: "The badgers moved the goalposts.
"We're dealing with a wild animal, subject to the vagaries of the weather and disease and breeding patterns."
A decision on whether to extend the badger cull in Somerset is expected later this week.
Natural England is considering an application from the culling company involved.
This morning Defra has revised its badger population estimates:
Number of badgers in each area
- 1450 in Somerset (compared to initial estimate of 2400 in September 2012)
- 2350 in Gloucestershire (compared to initial estimate of 3400 in September 2012)
With these revised figures, Defra says the minimum number of badgers needed to be culled is:
- 1020 in Somerset
- 1650 in Gloucestershire
In the six weeks of the cull, 850 badgers have been removed in Somerset.
Musician and wildlife campaigner Brian May says the badger cull is morally wrong following calls for the trial to be extended.
It's estimated 850 badgers have been killed - far short of the target of more than 2000. Defra and Natural England say extending the cull will maximise disease control benefits.
A pilot badger cull is set to be extended by up to three weeks because fewer animals were killed than had been hoped.
Defra said Natural England was considering an extension to the west Somerset cull to "maximise the disease control benefits".
According to reports, just 850 badgers have been shot in the area over the six-week trial, just over 40 percent of an initial target of 2,081. The aim was to kill 70 percent of badgers in west Somerset and Gloucestershire by free shooting.
A Defra spokesman said: "Early indications suggest that the Somerset cull has been safe, humane and enough badgers have already been killed to help reduce bovine TB.
"Natural England is currently considering an application from the cull company for a short extension of two to three weeks so as to maximise the disease control benefits achieved this year."