STROUD District Council Labour group has announced that it is opposing the badger cull in Gloucestershire.

The group is responding to an announcement made by the Government agency Natural England earlier this month, stating that it would be issuing licences for 11 new areas of England, alongside re-authorising licences for 33 areas of the country where culling has already taken place in previous years.

The new areas include parts of Gloucestershire, and there is also an existing control area in the county that has also been re-authorised for culling to resume.

The latest expansion of the cull comes despite the Government signalling its intention to gradually phase out badger culling to tackle TB in livestock.

Earlier this year, it was announced that the next phase of the government's strategy to tackle bovine tuberculosis in cattle will involve field trials of a cattle vaccine, with the intention of deploying it within the next five years.

Stroud district council Labour group member, and council leader Doina Cornell said: “Contrary to previous claims by the government, culling badgers is being increased this year to many new areas with tens of thousands of badgers due to be slaughtered. On top of the pain and suffering this causes, there is a risk of localised extinction of this iconic and much-loved species”.

The government said it still intended to phase out “intensive badger culling in the next few years, while ensuring that wildlife control remains a tool that can be deployed where the scientific evidence supports it”.