This year's controversial badger cull in Somerset and Gloucestershire is underway, the Government has announced.
The second year of a four-year scheme has started in the two counties in an attempt to prevent the spread of bovine TB in cattle.
We are pursuing a comprehensive strategy supported by leading vets which includes cattle movement controls, vaccinating badgers in edge areas and culling badgers where the disease is rife. This is vital for the future of our beef and dairy industries, and our nation's food security. At present we have the highest rates of bovine TB in Europe. Doing nothing is not an option and that is why we are taking a responsible approach to dealing with bovine TB.
The Government has confirmed that a second cull of badgers has begun in West Somerset and Gloucestershire. Protestors spent last night patrolling the cull zones trying to prevent the animals being shot as part of the Government's attempts to control Bovine TB.
The pilot badger culls are set to start again in Gloucestershire and Somerset.
Farming minister George Eustice outlined the plans for the culls, which are expected to begin as early as tonight. To fulfil the licensing criteria, marksmen will have to cull at least 615 badgers in Gloucestershire and 316 in Somerset to reach the estimated target of removing 70% of the badger population.
People fighting the resumption of the badger cull began patrolling last night in West Somerset because they believe the cull is imminent.
There was no sign of culling activity, but reports are growing that the cull is due to begin tonight.
The badger cull is due to start shortly in Gloucestershire and the county's Assistant Chief Constable says public safety is a priority.Read the full story ›
An announcement is expected to be made about this year's badger culls.
New Environment Secretary Liz Truss is due to make a written statement today about the resumption of culls in Gloucestershire and West Somerset.
The High Court has rejected an 11th-hour challenge to a Government decision to let the latest badger cull go ahead without monitoring by a panel of independent experts.
The Badger Trust wanted a ruling to block "controlled shooting" of free-roaming badgers in Gloucestershire and Somerset unless a panel is put in place.
But Mr Justice Kenneth Parker, sitting in London, today dismissed the application for judicial review.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is testing whether the shooting method can be rolled out to other parts of the country to tackle tuberculosis in cattle.
Last year an independent expert panel (IEP) said in a report on the first year of the four-year pilot schemes that controlled shooting could not deliver the level of culling needed to bring about a reduction in bovine TB and was not humane.
Campaigners have gathered outside the High Court in London today for another hearing about the Government's badger cull.
The Badger Trust is seeking a ruling that there has been a failure to install an independent panel of experts to monitor this year's pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset. The culls are taking place to try to stop the spread of TB in cattle.
The UK's Chief Vet has said something has to be done about bovine TB after the government affirmed its commitment to badger culling today.
Badger culls will go ahead as planned this autumn in Somerset and Gloucestershire.
Nigel Gibbens says culling could be the right thing to do if done right:
As the Governments affirms its commitment to badger culling, Duncan Sleightholme went to meet one farmer who's been battling with TB.Read the full story ›