George EusticeGeorge Eustice ©David Hartley/Rex Shutterstock

Farm minister George Eustice says the government has yet to decide when badger culling to combat bovine tuberculosis will take place in more areas.

So far, culling has been limited to two pilot areas of Somerset and Gloucestershire.

See also: NFU calls for badger cull rollout

Mr Eustice said culling was an essential part of the government’s strategy to eradicate the disease but the government had not yet decided when it would be rolled out more widely.

“We have not made any final decision on that,” he told Farmers Weekly.

“What I can tell you is that we are very clear as a government that culling infected badgers and dealing with the reservoir of the disease in the wildlife  population is an absolutely crucial element of any strategy to eradicate bovine TB.”

Mr Eustice said the government was clear that it wanted culling to take place in disease hotspot areas beyond the Somerset and Gloucestershire pilot zones.

But it was too early to say when that might be.

“A rollout to new areas is part of our strategy and I am afraid you’ll have to wait for us to weigh things up before we are able to announce anything further.”