The company behind the Somerset pilot cull is seeking an extension after the scheme failed to kill the Government’s quota of the animals.

The company behind the free shooting of badgers as part of the Somerset pilot cull is seeking an extension after the scheme failed to kill the Government’s quota of the animals.

The badger culls have been revised by Defra after low numbers were killed by marksmenAccording to the BBC, Natural England – which issued farmers in the Somerset cull region with shooting licenses – has applied for an extension of two to three weeks to hit cull targets.

In the meantime, cull targets in both Somerset and Gloucestershire have been scaled down after Defra sources admitted previous estimates of badger populations were inaccurate.

Government sources admitted to the BBC that only 850 badgers had been shot in Somerset during the six-week trial – just over 40% of the original 2,081 target.

The sources said the harsh winter, lack of food and disease had all led to a decline in population numbers in the Somerset and Gloucestershire areas, and the combined cull target for both areas has now been revised down to 2,600 badgers.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, National Farmers’ Union president Peter Kendall admitted farmers and Natural England needed “a few more weeks” to meet cull criteria, and that the cull targets had not been met as the schemes involves “learning as we go“.

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