Badger cull could start on Monday, say sources
The Government has refused to confirm reports that a controversial badger cull in the South West is set to begin on the night of August 26.
The Guardian newspaper has made the claim over the start date of the shooting of badgers at two sites, which is designed to halt the spread of tuberculosis (TB) in cows, after celebrity campaigners suggested "rumours" were the cull would begin on Monday.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) disputed the Guardian claim that department sources had given its journalists a start date. However, the newspaper said it was also confirmed through sources "elsewhere".
A spokesman for Defra said: "The start dates are a matter for the culling companies."
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The National Farmers' Union, which represents the culling companies who employ marksmen to shoot the badgers, declined to comment.
The culls on farmland in Somerset and Gloucestershire could have begun at any time since June 1 and ministers have been clear they will go ahead. They also indicated they could be rolled out across hotspots in Devon and Cornwall.
Both rock guitarist Brian May and wildlife broadcaster Chris Packham claimed on social media yesterday that Monday had been earmarked.