DESPITE a three-week extension to the controversial badger cull, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has admitted that the pilot scheme failed to meet its target.

The cull ended on Friday (November 1) and it is estimated that around 65% of the badger population in the West Somerset cull zone were shot when the target was 70%.

DEFRA said that in total 940 badgers were killed.

Initially, the target number of badgers to be killed was 2,081 but this was revised to 1,020 after Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Owen Paterson accused the badgers of 'moving the goalposts."

Mr Paterson said the culls will deliver clear disease benefits as part of a four-year cull in the area.

An independent panel of experts are carrying out findings to make sure the pilot has been safe and humane.

Ministers and the National Farmers Union say badger culling is needed to control incidents of TB in cattle after 28,000 cattle were slaughtered in 2012, costing the taxpayers £100m.

However, animal welfare groups say scientific evidence does not support the policy of shooting badgers in an attempt to control the disease.