Second badger cull wins approval

The second licence for a pilot cull of badgers has been issued in a bid to tackle tuberculosis in cattle.

The government agency Natural England issued the four-year permit for an area of West Somerset, allowing the "control" of the nocturnal animal to prevent the spread of bovine tuberculosis.

For six-week periods each year, licence-holders will be able to kill three-quarters of badgers in an area covering about 250sq kms (155sq miles), around 70 per cent of the West Somerset pilot area.

The move is likely to anger wildlife campaigners and opponents, who believe culls do not have a significant effect on tackling the disease in livestock.

Natural England said it issued the licence because it was satisfied the application met the criteria set out in the Government's policy guidance on how to carry out culls.

The advisory body said culls can only start once dates are confirmed, those authorised to carry out the killings are named, the necessary funds are in place, and the number of badgers subject to control operations is specified.

The cull confirmations are expected to be finished within the next few weeks, it said. The first full licence was issued for an area of Gloucestershire.