Defra has announced the areas that will take part in a controversial badger-culling pilot.

Farmers and landowners in West Gloucestershire and West Somerset can now apply for licenses to carry out controlled shootings of badgers.

The pilot forms part of government measures to control tuberculosis in cattle, which is thought to be transmitted through badgers.

Food and farming minister Jim Paice said badger culls in the two areas were just one way the government was looking to control the spread of the “chronic and devastating” disease.

“We already have robust measures to control its spread among cattle, which we plan to strengthen further, and are continuing to work hard on the development of practical and usable vaccines,” Paice said.

Applications to carry out controlled shooting would be assessed by Natural England against a set of strict criteria, he added.

Defra’s announcement comes after a leak of badger cull areas in the regional press on Wednesday.