1. ITV Report

Badger cull: more than 10,000 badgers killed during the Autumn as Government steps up disease control

The latest figures show a big rise in the number of badgers killed in this year's cull. Credit: PA Images

More than 10,000 badgers have been killed this Autumn in the latest round of a controversial cull.

Government figures show the official number of badgers killed was 10,866 - a significant rise on last year's figures.

The scheme is centred on the West Country and has been rolled out to Devon and Cornwall this year after trials in Gloucestershire, Dorset and Somerset.

The aim of the cull is to tackle the infectious disease bovine tuberculosis - which affects cattle in the UK.

Animal welfare groups have criticised the cull saying it's a 'pointless exercise' because it does not reduce bovine Tb and is carried out in an inhumane manner.

Phillip Mansbridge, the UK Director of International Fund for Animal Welfare, said:

If the Government truly cared about farmers' livelihoods they would stop making the badger a scapegoat for their previous failings in eradicating and managing Bovine Tb.

It is a fact that if we killed every single badger in the UK we would still have BTb, so it's time to refocus the huge amount of money and resource involved in this mass slaughter of badgers each year and concentrate on practical solutions."

– Phillip Mansbridge, UK Director, International Fund for Animal Welfare
The badgers are being killed to help limit the spread of Bovine Tuberculosis. Credit: PA Images

But in a statement the Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom defended the cull saying:

This will boost trade opportunities and mean some herds require less regular TB testing, reducing costs for farmers and taxpayers.

We have much still to do in the worst affected parts of the country, but this shows that our strategy - combining practical biosecurity measures, a robust cattle movement and testing regime, and badger control in areas where the disease is rife - is right and is working.

– Andrea Leadsom, Environment Secretary