Badger cull begins in pilot zones

Last updated at 05:58
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Martin looks at why the cull divides opinion

A pilot badger cull in parts of the south west of England is under way.

Over the next six weeks around 5,000 badgers will be killed in Gloucestershire and Somerset to try to stop the spread of disease in cattle.

Supporters claim culling badgers is the only way to tackle a disease called tuberculosis, which they say is spread from infected badgers to livestock.

But animal charity, the Badger Trust, say that shooting the animals won't solve the problem.

Controversial cull

Campaigners have fought the plans since the test areas were revealed last year.

Some protestors and wildlife groups have tried to disrupt the cull by digging up bait laid by farmers and disturbing the ground near traps, so that the animals will be scared to come out.

An online petition against the cull has been signed by over 250,000 names.

But the National Farmers' Union president, Peter Kendall, repeated his claim that the cull was necessary.

He said: "Thirty-eight thousand cattle were slaughtered last year in Britain because of TB. For beef and dairy farmers dealing with TB on their farms, these badger culls are an essential part in the fight against this terrible disease."