The absurdity of the government’s plans to start killing badgers again is revealed by the revised targets announced last week.

A minimum of 316 and a maximum of 785 badgers are to be killed in West Somerset, more in Gloucestershire.

Putting aside the fact that fewer than half the farms taking part have any cattle on them and that the scientific consensus is against culling as an effective way of reducing TB in cattle, the numbers don’t add up.

The stated aim has always been to kill 70 per cent of the local badgers.

Any less than 70 per cent risks making the TB problem worse, any more risks local extinction. So is 316, 70 per cent of the badger population in West Somerset, meaning there are only 451 live badgers in total?

In that case, killing 785 of them would clearly be impossible. It would mean wiping out the entire local population 1.7 times. But what if the upper target, 785, is 70 per cent of the total number of badgers, meaning there are actually 1,121 live badgers in West Somerset? Killing only 316 of them would be less than 30 per cent, well below the 70 per cent target. Has this arbitrary 70 per cent target been abandoned? If so why?

Is the government plucking figures out of thin air so that it can hail their ludicrous cull as a success in a desperate attempt to save face after last year’s spectacular failure to reach anything like their own targets for humaneness and effectiveness?

Perhaps landowners in Dorset who are so keen on slaughtering badgers, particularly the large pheasant shoots and the farms who have not adopted even the simplest of measures to minimise contact between cattle and wildlife as recommended on DEFRA’s website, can explain the logic behind these numbers.

Even with a science degree I can make no sense of them.

Andy Hamilton High Street Yeovil