BADGERS in Gloucestershire are to be exposed to excruciating injuries and immense suffering if the proposed cull goes ahead, new information reveals.

The pilot cull is due to start any time from tomorrow onwards at undisclosed locations in West Gloucestershire and Somerset and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has now revealed that some animals are likely to be shot but not instantly killed.

A document released by the department, following a freedom of information request by Humane Society UK, shows they concede injured badgers will experience massive bleeding, hyperventilation and shock with many eventually dying of secondary infection or starvation.

The cull will determine whether it is a useful tool in eradicating tuberculosis in cattle but has attracted fierce opposition, with more than 222,000 people signing a petition calling on the government to stop it.

The document also reveals that the theory for the humane killing of badgers is based on studies carried out on the culling of other animals, including whales.

“Killing a large whale with a harpoon to the brain has nothing whatsoever to do with shooting a badger in the chest with a rifle or shotgun in the pitch dark in the middle of a wood,” said Mark Jones, director of HSI UK.

“This document provides a shocking insight into the cruel fate that awaits England’s badgers – a dreadful massacre made all the more horrific because it has no basis whatsoever in science,” he said.

However, DEFRA have said every precaution has been taken to ensure that the cull is carried out humanely.

“The design of the study to assess humaneness of the badger culling pilots has been overseen by an independent expert panel, which includes expertise in animal welfare, badger ecology and wildlife population management,” said a spokesman.

DEFRA was also keen to dispute claims made by HSI UK that the cull would be carried out by inexperienced huntsmen, resulting in a lack of clean badger kills.

“All marksmen are required to pass a government training course and must adhere to best practice guidance to ensure they carry out the cull in a humane way.”

The RSPCA, which estimates that more than 70 per cent of the badger population will be wiped out, believes that the facts used to justify the cull are fictitious.

RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant said: “There are many myths in circulation about badgers and bovine TB being used to justify the cull.

“They are unscientific, dangerously inaccurate and need to be exposed.”

Officials at the RSPCA have revealed that bovine TB in Northern Ireland has reduced without a cull - something they believe the government has overlooked.

“The cull will not help the cattle. Only a full vaccination of badgers and cattle compared with better bio-security on farms can do that,” said Mr Grant.

London Against the Cull, a protest march in the capital, will take place tomorrow Saturday, June 1.