GLOUCESTERSHIRE badgers will be exposed to excruciating injuries and immense suffering if the proposed cull goes ahead, new information reveals.

With the pilot cull due to start any time from June 1 at undisclosed locations in West Gloucestershire and Somerset, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has revealed that some animals are likely to be shot but not instantly killed.

A document released by DEFRA following a freedom of information request by Humane Society International/UK reveals that the Government department concedes injured badgers will experience massive bleeding, hyperventilation and shock with many eventually dying of secondary infection or starvation.

The cull, which has already been postponed since last summer, 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 an e-petition calling on the government to stop it.

Mark Jones, director of Humane Society International/UK, said: “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.”

The DEFRA document reveals the department has based its theory for the humane killing of badgers 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,” Mr Jones said.

The RSPCA estimates that more than 70 per cent of the badger population, many of them healthy, will be wiped out by the culls.

DEFRA have yet to talk to the Standard about the new information.