Second badger cull licence issued
Natural England has issued the second licence allowing farmers to shoot badgers under measures designed to control bovine TB.
|The licences now cover two areas in the South-West where TB cases are high|
The cull could start in weeks in West Somerset, a hotspot for TB in cattle.
Ministers are pressing ahead with their plans to cull badgers in two areas of the South-West, amid pressure from farmers.
But a decade-long scientific trial of badger culling concluded there were only modest benefits.
The first licence, allowing a cull to take place in Gloucestershire, was issued on 17 September.
The second one, applied for by a specially formed company "representing farming and land management interests", covers 250 sq km of countryside in West Somerset.
The licences allow farmers to cull up to 70% of baders in the pilot zones.
Evidence suggests some wild badgers can become infected with the bacteria that causes bovine TB and pass it on to cattle.
Estimates suggest that culling badgers in areas where bovine TB is prevalent could reduce the number of new cases of TB in herds by 16% over 9 years, said Defra.
Several scientists, including government advisers, say culling alone will not solve the problem.
The National Farmers Union (NFU) and the British Veterinary Association (BVA) argue that even if culling delivers only a modest benefit, it is better than nothing.