Campaigners fighting to stop the badgers culls in Somerset say they've had a 'constructive' meeting with the Environment Secretary.
Members of the Badger Trust spoke to Liz Truss in her London office, claiming the culls are both costly and ineffective in halting the spread of TB in cattle.
Afterwards they said she had agreed to consider various points about animal welfare and vaccination.
She said the chief veterinary officer still continues to advise her that it is a tool that needs to be used. She made no commitment on extension of the culls at this stage even though we did agree if there were any steps to go forward they'd have to go through proper licencing and consultation processes. She did accept that cattle measures are important, she did accept badger vaccination has a valuable roll to play as well which is a step forward from her predecessor Owen Patterson.
Badger culling could be extended to more areas where TB is rife in cattle if the Conservatives win the general election.
Environment Secretary Liz Truss made the announcement at the NFU annual conference, saying the party will continue with its 25-year strategy to eradicate the disease, which includes rolling-out the cull.
Campaigners have reacted angrily, calling it a cruel and ineffective strategy in combating the disease.
The National Farmers Union has called for a badger cull to be introduced in Devon and Cornwall to halt the spread of Bovine TB.
It comes as the government outlined its determination to press ahead with the policy after recent culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire.
274 of the animals were culled in Gloucestershire, falling far short of the amount needed to cut the disease in livestock. In West Somerset, 341 were shot - that's slightly above the minimum target.
In both of the pilot areas, a significant proportion were killed by the more expensive cage trapping and shooting method, rather than "controlled shooting" of free-running badgers - leading anti-cull protestors to argue that the cull was unsucessful. Dominic Dyer from the Badger Trust says that , as a free-shooting trial, the cull has failed.
Further measures to combat bovine TB have been revealed following the announcement of the results of the second year of badger culls.
An action plan for farmers sets out plans to help reduce the risk of disease spread on their farms. There will be a new service giving farmers within the badger cull areas bespoke veterinary advice on TB management.
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss says the new approach will continue to include culling.
During the last parliament bovine TB rates in England soared to the highest in Europe. That is why we taking strong action in pursuing our comprehensive strategy, including tighter cattle movement controls, vaccinations and culling.
The Chief Vet’s advice is that results of this year’s cull in Somerset show they can be effective. That is why I am determined to continue with a comprehensive Strategy that includes culling.
There are also plans for a consultation on tougher measures for transporting cattle. An online map will show high and low risk areas. The Government has awarded £50,000 in small grants to livestock markets to help them introduce checking systems.
Independently audited results of the badger culls show cull figures for the year, and says that levels of humaneness and a high standard of public safety were maintained. In Somerset 341 badgers were removed - exceeding the minimum target.
It's been revealed that last year's badger cull in Somerset and Gloucestershire cost taxpayers an average of £3,350 for every animal killed.
1,879 animals were killed in the pilot culls - 955 badgers in Somerset and 924 in Gloucestershire. The cullings are aimed at stopping the spread of TB in cattle and cost a total of almost £6.3 million according the Government figures.
DEFRA says the costs were high because of the need to monitor the operation for safety and humaneness.
Campaigners have lost the latest round of their legal battle over the culling of badgers.
They accused the Government at the Court of Appeal of acting unlawfully by allowing the latest badger culls to go ahead without an independent expert panel (IEP) to monitor whether the animals are being killed in a humane way.
The Badger Trust asked three judges at a recent hearing in London to rule that there was a "legitimate expectation" that an IEP would be put in place.
But, in a decision announced today, Lord Justice Davis, Lord Justice Christopher Clarke and Lord Justice Bean dismissed their case.
The challenge arose from a decision to sanction a second year of "controlled shooting" of free-roaming badgers in Gloucestershire and Somerset as part of efforts to tackle tuberculosis in cattle
The Government and farmers insist culling is necessary to tackle TB in livestock.
Opponents of the badger culls will find out today if their latest legal challenge has been successful.
The Badger Trust is appealing against an earlier ruling that culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire could go ahead without independent monitors.
The trust argues this breaches a government promise.
The six week badger cull in Gloucestershire and Somerset officially ends today. It's the second year that badgers have been shot to try to stop them spreading TB to cattle. Last year the cull was extended because not enough animals had been killed. Protesters say it's been a failure again this year, but the National Farmer's Union disagree.
I think generally we are pretty pleased with how it has gone. In large parts of the area we are seeing very few badgers left on the ground now. Unfortunately there are one or two areas where we haven't been able to be as effective as we'd like to because of the actions of protesters but largely we are very happy with it.
Results from a poll on the recently trialled badger cull suggests that 9 out of 10 people in the UK are against the practice.
The trial cull in Somerset officially ended today. Of the 2000 polled, only 3 in 4 were aware of the cull. They were then given information about the UK trial, and the Welsh government’s success in cutting bovine TB through vaccination rather than culling.
The final poll then showed that 89% said that they wanted the government to stop culling badgers, and instead to follow the Welsh example.
The poll was carried out by ComRes, and was commissioned by Care for the Wild and the Badger Trust.
As the trial badger culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset come to an end, anti cull campaigners say it was a failure last year, and when the figures are released, they will show that this year has been a failure too.