The RSPCA has responded to Defra's announcement of increased measures to manage bTB.

Adam Grogan, Head of the RSPCA’s wildlife department said: “We’re appalled that the government’s inhumane and ill-considered bTB policy has been ramped up even further.

“Official data from 2016 demonstrates the pointlessness of culling badgers, with only 0.05% (46) of 994 culled badger carcasses tested found to be carrying the disease.

“It’s also a disgrace that the cull has been extended into Cumbria, a low-risk area. Cumbrian badgers will now pay the price for poor cattle testing and movement policies, when cattle imported from Northern Ireland brought bTB to the area. We are also concerned that the new Cumbrian licence will have similar results to the reactive culls seen in the Randomised Badger Cull Trials (RBCT) which were shown not to work and even make the bTB issue worse.

“While we agree that bovine TB must be tackled, we don’t believe that culling badgers is the answer. The government’s current policy for TB eradication in England is bad for badgers, bad for cattle and bad for farmers.

“It’s high time the badger cull was scrapped, and for scarce funds to be spent instead on alternative methods, such as stricter controls on the movement of cattle, increased levels of cattle testing, more widespread use of new tests, improved biosecurity, and vaccination of both badgers and cattle to stop the spread of this devastating disease.”