The badger cull has been labelled “political poison” after a new poll revealed a high level of public dissatisfaction.

The controversial culls resumed last week in bTB hotspots Somerset and Gloucestershire with anger of the scheme being the fifth biggest source of complaints to MPs.

Some 54% of Conservative and Labour MPs surveyed by MORI identified the issue as one of the major sources of letters and queries through constituency clinics.

The badger cull ranked behind immigration, benefits, housing and the NHS, yet ahead of issues such as child care, taxes and pensions.

The news comes as Labour pledged to abandon the cull should it come to power next year. The party would instead focus on increased biosecurity and vaccination in a bid to rid the UK of bTB.

Dominic Dyer, spokesman for the Badger Trust and Care for the Wild, described the culls as “political poison in Westminster”.

He argued: “The MORI poll confirms that MPs from all parties are being inundated with complaints from constituents calling for it to end.

“Wildlife protection is now a key political issue in the UK and millions of voters want a clear choice on the badger cull issue at the next election.”

Labour’s shadow farming minister Huw Irranca-Davies added: “There is a viable alternative way, but we need farmers and their unions and associations to engage fully and sign up to a long-term programme.

“It will not be easy, nor quick, but we will defeat TB without mass culling if there is a will to do so in the farming and wider community.”

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