The government's annual badger cull has again failed to reach its targets, in part due to disruption caused by animal rights activists.
The government had asked for a minimum of 931 badgers to be killed in an attempt to stop the spread of tuberculosis among cattle, which is carried by badgers and threatens the dairy and meat industry.
But environment secretary Liz Truss told the House of Commons only 615 badgers were "safely and humanely removed" during this autumn's cull across West Somerset and West Gloucestershire. The government had authorised the death of up to 1,876 of the animals.
Meanwhile, the government's chief veterinary officer said the low level of badger-culling in Gloucestershire means the cull may not be successful at controlling tuberculosis. "Given the lower level of badger population reduction in the Gloucestershire cull area over the past two years, the benefits of reducing disease in cattle over the planned four-year cull may not be realised there," he said
The number of badgers destroyed in Gloucestershire was well below the expected target, which Truss ascribes to the "challenges of extensive unlawful protest and intimidation".
The cost of this cull has not been published, although official figures for its first year show it cost £3,350 to kill each badger in 2013.
Marksmen shooting the badgers marginally improved their shot this year, according to the report, which said "levels of accuracy achieved in this year's cull, were slightly, but not significantly, improved compared to 2013".
Former environment secretary Owen Paterson famously complained that the badgers "moved the goalposts" when the target was missed last year.
Jim Waterson is a politics editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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