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Second badger cull underway

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.

– Elizabeth Truss MP, Environment Secretary

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Farming minister outlines plans for culls

Farming minister outlines plans for culls Credit: PA

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.

Anti-cull campaigners begin patrols

Badger cull expected to resume tonight Credit: PA

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.

Anti-cull campaigners gathered last night expecting the badger cull to resume Credit: Somerset Against the Badger Cull

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Badger cull challenge rejected

The High Court says the latest badger cull can go ahead without monitoring by independent experts

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.

Badger cull protestors gather at High Court

Badger cull protestors outside the High Court today Credit: ITV News West Country

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.

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