The pilot cull of badgers in Somerset is coming to an end. It started six weeks ago. Marksmen were hoping to shoot around 2,000 badgers, 70% of the population. It's part of the Government's plans to control the spread of TB in cattle.
Half way through the badger cull and the Government says it IS on track. It's got three more weeks to run in West Somerset, but there are claims marksmen aren't killing enough badgers to make the trial scientifically worthwhile.
Today Farming Minister David Heath told ITV West Country the cull will be properly assessed at the end of the trial. Our environment correspondent, Duncan Sleightholme reports.
A charity has claimed photos of a dead badger proves the animals are suffering painful deaths as part of the badger cull. Defra however, says the pictures are not connected to the trials.
We are confident that this is not connected to the pilot culls.
All badgers killed as part of the pilot culls have been shot cleanly and killed instantly.
The animal rescue centre Secret World in Highbridge, Somerset, says a post mortem on a dead badger (pictured) proves the animals are suffering painful deaths as part of the badger cull. It is the first photo released of a culled badger.
They say that the position of the badger's organs outside its body - which is too graphic to publish - and the fact it was found away from its sett, show that it did not die instantaneously, but ran away mortally wounded.
The rock star and wildlife campaigner Brian May has apologised for using the term 'genocide' to describe the badger cull pilots taking place in the West of England.
The Queen musician's alleged remarks were made during a visit to Gloucestershire last week and caused a backlash among members of the Jewish community.
Writing on his website, May said he could not remember using the phrase "genocide in the countryside," but that he had given some 20 interviews and may have lost track.
May said he had no intention to "slight the Jewish community" but maintained it was "not a very big flight of fancy" to refer to the killing of animals in this way.
"The word I prefer to use about the badger cull is 'massacre' ... because really the word 'cull' is enormously euphemistic," he added.
A dairy farmer and businessman from Weston-super-Mare has claimed the badger cull in Somerset will not succeed due to a failure to shoot enough of the animals.
North Somerset Cllr Derek Mead said only a handful of badgers are being shot daily in the Exmoor culling zone.
He said after two weeks of shooting the total number of badgers killed was 'well below 100', a tiny proportion of the 2,000 needed to be shot if the six-week pilot is to be successful.
He has called for badgers to be gassed instead of shot.
The culls aim to assess if culling can be done effectively, safely and humanely, with plans to roll out the scheme more widely in areas that are hotspots for TB in cattle.
Farmers and the Government insist culling of badgers, which can spread TB to cattle, is needed to stop spiralling rates of the disease in herds.
Gloucestershire Police said four people were arrested in Redmarley in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
- A 46-year-old woman from Cheltenham
- A 34-year-old woman from Gloucester
- A 46-year-old woman from Evesham
- A 23-year-old man from Mansfield in Nottinghamshire
All four were arrested on suspicion of theft and aggravated trespass.
The 34-year-old woman was also arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon.
Four people have been arrested in Gloucestershire in connection with the badger cull taking place in the county.
All four remain in police custody.
Around 400 people braved the rain and turned out to march in opposition to the badger cull in Taunton this morning. They started from Goodland Gardens and walked to Vivary Park. Police say there were no problems.