Speaking at the National Farmers Union (NFU) conference in Birmingham on 27 February, DEFRA secretary of state Owen Paterson announced that the licence conditions had been met to allow two pilot badger control programmes to go ahead. Natural England published confirmatory letters, heavily edited to protect those undertaking the cull.

The pilot schemes will take place in west Gloucestershire and west Somerset. Each licence will be granted for a four-year term, allowing an annual six-week cull to take place between 1 June and 31 January. Those granted licences are authorised to reduce badger populations by at least 70 per cent, though a maximum number of badgers has been specified to prevent local extinction.

The rest of this article appears in the 6th March issue of Shooting Times.

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