Shropshire is one of eight counties to apply for a licence to extend the controversial badger culling, the government has confirmed.

Government officials will hold a consultation period to seek public views on whether to extend the cull in a bid to eradicate bovine tuberculosis (TB).

Farmers have welcomed the move, while North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson allowed two counties in 2013 to use 'free shooting' when he was Environment Secretary.

However, Dominic Dyer, from the Badger Trust, believes more than 50,000 animals will be killed if the culling is rolled out into the eight counties.

He said: “This is rapidly becoming a badger eradication programme from large parts of the country where livestock farming is taking place.

"With plans to extend the badger cull into eight new counties in 2018 from Avon to Berkshire and Oxfordshire to Warwickshire, over 50,000 badgers could be killed this summer.

“The badger cull has already cost taxpayers over £50million and is widely considered by leading scientists and conservationists to be cruel, costly and ineffective."

The consultation closes on March 19 and can be found at Natural England's website here: