Government supports badger cull in south-west England

Last updated at 13:35

The government has announced that it supports culling badgers in parts of England.

It means that a plan for a widespread cull of badgers is one step closer to happening.

The reason for culling badgers is to try and stop the spread of a disease that infects and kills cattle, called bovine TB.

Farmers say badgers carry and spread the illness amongst their cows.

Different views on culling

Caroline Spelman (she's the person in the government who looks after the environment) said she wished there was another way of stopping the disease, but "with the problem of TB spreading and no usable vaccine on the horizon, I'm strongly minded to allow controlled culling".

But Labour, the opposition party who aren't in government, say there isn't enough evidence to show it works, and that badger culling shouldn't be allowed.

Tens of thousands of cattle are killed each year because they get bovine TB, and one farmer, Aled Rees, said something had to be done.

"I don't want to kill badgers unnecessarily, but we can't go on as we are.

"Something has to be done about it and let's get into a position, sometime in the future, where we can vaccinate the cattle and vaccinate the badgers and have an an end to all this."

When will the cull start?

The government has backed badger culling, but that doesn't mean it will start straight away.

They plan to have two trial runs, called pilot schemes, and then decide with scientists if it's working.

If they decide it is, that's when farmers across England would be allowed to start culling badgers.

But people who are against it could take the government to court to stop their plans, because badgers are a protected species.

The government in Wales supported a badger cull there, but campaigners took their fight to the courts and won, so the cull didn't go ahead.