TWO areas in the South West will be chosen as pilots for badger culls, the Government confirmed.

The move – which it is hoped will reduce bovine TB – has been welcomed by the National Farmers’ Union, but condemned by the League Against Cruel Sports.

NFU president Peter Kendall said: “Today is another massive step forward in achieving our end goal of a healthy countryside – both for badgers and for cattle.

“I commend Defra for introducing these two pilot areas to confirm the effectiveness, humaneness and safety of controlled shooting.

“We must tackle this terrible disease, a disease that sees tens of thousands of cattle destroyed each and every year.”

But the League Against Cruel Sports said the trials would cost £80 million.

Chief executive Joe Duckworth said: “The government has failed to act appropriately on this issue and in doing so has ignored the science, public opinion and past mistakes. This is a cowardly decision taken to appease the few who shout the loudest but sadly it will do very little to address the real problem.”

The league believes the government should produce vaccines for both badgers and cattle.