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A group of eminent vets claim that the rationale for expanding the badger cull has been undermined by a pair of studies commissioned by the government that ministers have been sitting on for two years.

The government says new cull zones should be introduced where there is evidence that badgers are an important factor in spreading bovine TB to cattle, a potentially ruinous scenario for farmers. The National Farmers Union says 30,000 cattle were slaughtered last year because of the disease, with more than 3,300 herds affected.

But in a letter to the government’s chief veterinary officer, Prof Christine Middlemiss, the vets say the studies confirm that hardly any badger carcasses analysed in two key areas in the north and south of England had infectious bovine TB.

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