BADGERS were culled at a rate of 94 a day in Wiltshire during seven weeks of action in September and October.

In South Wiltshire, 2,252 badgers were killed over 42 days in an area from Salisbury stretching out towards Hindon and covering sites including Broad Chalke, Tisbury and Dinton, according to government figures released on Thursday. A total of 4,521 badgers were culled across three sites in the county over a 48-day period.

In September, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced that Natural England had licensed certain Wiltshire farmers and landowners to carry out “badger control operations”, as part of the government’s 25-year plan to eradicate bovine tuberculosis (TB), believed to be carried by badgers.

Roughly three quarters were killed by “controlled shooting” while the remaining 1,414 were killed by cage trapping, where badgers are caught and then shot.

And figures showed that, of a sample of shootings which were monitored by Defra, only 80 per cent of badgers were killed by the first shot that hit them.

Campaign group Wiltshire Against the Badger Cull (WABC) regularly patrols areas where shoots are taking place and monitors where badger cages are being set out, as well as going out during shoots to try to scare the badgers back underground.

A spokesman for the group said they were “absolutely horrified” by the figures, and called into question the effectiveness of controversial culling in eradicating TB, adding: “They have never been able to prove how badgers supposedly give it to cattle.”

He called the culling methods “totally inhumane” and a “waste of money” and called on environment secretary Michael Gove to “look sensibly at the science, not the rhetoric”, adding: “Satisfying the farmers’ urge for a quick fix is not going to actually solve the problem.”

Minnette Batters, a Wiltshire cattle farmer and deputy president of the National Farmers’ Union, called the introduction of culling in the county “a logical step” and said “expansion into further areas will help achieve and maintain long-term disease control”.

She said the NFU would continue to offer help to farmers who wanted to apply for a cull licence in areas “where culling will have a beneficial impact on disease control”.

Defra said the most recent cull had “delivered the level of badger removal required to be confident of disease control benefits”.

Each area needs to set up a company that’s licensed by Natural England and the company employs and trains the shooters.