A six-week period of controlled badger shooting has begun in west Gloucestershire and west Somerset, confirms the Secretary of State for Defra.

In a statement issued today, Owen Paterson reveals:’I understand the pilot cull is proceeding to plan and those involved are pleased with progress to date.’

Trained marksmen have been sent to the South West to perform the cull, which is hoped to prevent the spread of bovine tuberculosis (TB) to cattle.

Supporting the strategy in a letter to members, National Farmers Union president Peter Kendall explains: ‘I know that many of you reading this will have suffered the misery of dealing with TB on the farm – some of you for decades – and I hope now you will feel that something is finally being done to stem the cycle of infection between cattle and badgers.’

It’s hoped the two pilots will reveal whether the process is safe, humane and effective at removing enough badgers to have a long term impact on levels of the disease in UK.

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It they’re successful, NFU Cymru deputy president Stephen James plans to ‘put pressure on the Welsh government to follow the lead’. He disagrees with Ministers who have chosen to enforce a vaccination project in heavily infected area north Pembrokeshire.

Stephen believes culling would be a cheaper and more practical solution in locations with large diseased populations, while vaccinations should be saved for protecting badgers in less affected areas.

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