IT is estimated that policing of the controversial badger cull in Gloucestershire has cost £1.7 million, according to Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl.

According to Mr Surl the police planned for several scenarios and the estimated figure comes within the parameters of what could reasonably be expected.

“I have been assured by the police that the sum was justified,” said Mr Surl.

“It was the cost of keeping the peace in Gloucestershire during a very difficult time.”

Financially the cost should not affect policing in Gloucestershire as the Police Minister has promised that central government will cover the cost of any cull response.

The badger cull, which began last autumn, aimed to help control the spread of TB among cattle by killing at least 70 per cent of the badgers in pilot zones in west Gloucestershire and west Somerset.

But both ended without hitting their targets despite the initial figures being revised down and the culling periods extended.

Wildlife charity Care for the Wild has estimated that the total cost of the cull, which ended with just over half of the planned 5,000 badgers being killed, cost £7.3million in total - an astonishing £4,121 per badger.

It said it had used freedom of information requests and official sources to gather the data and believes police costs were £2.6million, farmers’ costs were £1.49million and the cost to the Government was £3.2million.

Care for the Wild’s policy advisor Dominic Dyer said the Government had delivered 'one of the most disastrous and expensive wildlife culls in history'.

“It has wasted millions of pounds on a badger cull which has no scientific, animal welfare or economic justification and which was carried out in an outrageously sloppy manner which would be laughable if it hadn’t cost so many badgers’ lives,” he said.

“All of this has been done to the sound of scientists almost universally saying that culling simply won’t have any significant impact on the disease and to the statistics that say there’s been a 10 per cent reduction in the number of cattle slaughtered this year, prior to the culls, due to better cattle management alone.”

The charity is calling for a radical overhaul in farming practices to eradicate bovine TB.

However, a Defra spokesman said the cost of the pilot cull was vastly outweighed by the impact bovine TB is having on the farming industry and taxpayers.

“Each bovine TB cattle outbreak costs an average £34,000, and if left unchecked this disease will cost the taxpayer £1billion over the next 10 years.”