1. ITV Report

Controversial badger cull to be extended

The controversial badger cull looks set to be extended - including for the first time parts of Devon, Cornwall and Dorset.

The cull has already been taking place in parts of West Somerset and Gloucestershire - but now, as DEFRA look to step up the battle against TB in cattle, it's expected to be rolled out in South and North Devon, North Cornwall and West Dorset.

Credit: Ben Birchall/PA

Animal welfare groups have condemned the plans:

After 4 years of badger culling no one can now doubt that the policy has been a disastrous failure on scientific, cost and humaneness grounds. For the new DEFRA Secretary Andrea Leadsom to ignore the facts and extend this policy into 5 new areas of the country defies belief.

– Dominic Dyer, CEO of the Badger Trust

But, on the other side of the fence, the extension has been welcomed by the National Farmers' Union.

David George, from the NFU, told us:

According to the Badger Trust, since 2013 the government has licensed the culling of 3,916 badgers in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Dorset - costing the taxpayer in excess of £25 million.

number of badgers culled in the West Country so far.
A stop the cull poster on a fence at 'Camp Badger, Watchet, near Minehead, Somerset, where protesters gathered to oppose the cull in 2013. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA

Defra confirmed Natural England was currently considering applications for further license areas.

England has the highest incidence of TB in Europe and that is why we are taking strong action to deliver our 25-year strategy to eradicate the disease and protect the future of our dairy and beef industries.

Badger control in areas where TB is rife is one part of our long-term plan, which also includes strengthening cattle testing and movement controls and improving biosecurity on farm and when trading.

This comprehensive approach has worked overseas and is supported by the Government and Defra chief scientists and leading vets.

– Defra spokesperson
Credit: Ben Birchall/PA