The Badger Trust has expressed outrage as the government has revealed 33,687 badgers were slaughtered in 2021 as part of its ongoing and intensifying badger cull campaign - with 3,575 killed in Wiltshire.

The trust is warning that if the culling continues badgers will become extinct in parts of the countryside.

The new official figures for the numbers of badgers slaughtered on the instructions of the government means that more than 175,000 have been killed since 2013 - a third of the badger population in England and Wales.

The figures for Wiltshire show that 3,575 badgers were culled, of which 90 per cent, 3,208, were shot while free running.

“The proportion shot while free running, rather than the more humane caged and trapped, hit a record of nearly 9 out of 10, despite calls to stop this inhumane method that can leave injured badgers to die slow deaths,” said the trust.

The charity added: “The scale of the attack on one of Britain’s best-loved animals could lead to badgers disappearing from areas across the country and populations becoming unviable in others.

“At the same time, support for this controversial measure stands at only 15 per cent in England, the only UK nation where the cull is ongoing.”

Peter Hambly, executive director at the Badger Trust, said: “The figures are appalling. The attack on badgers intensifies, with scant evidence that badgers spread bTB to cattle. This assault on a much loved wild animal is reaching catastrophic proportions and needs to stop now.”