Culling badgers is unlikely to eradicate the scourge of bovine TB, leading disease researchers have said.
Pilot schemes are currently ongoing in West Somerset and Gloucestershire to tackle the disease and test whether culling can be done effectively, safely and humanely.
The cull is key to the Government's strategy to combat the disease which leads to 25,000 sick cattle being slaughtered every year and a multi-million pound compensation bill. But Christl Donnelly, professor of statistical epidemiology at Imperial College London, said the spread of the disease meant a cull was unlikely to succeed.
"The new cull may hold back the disease," she said at a seminar at Cambridge University, "but may never eradicate it".
Both Prof Donnelly and James Wood, professor of farm animal science at Cambridge, told the seminar the best hope for eradicating the disease was vaccination.
The warning came as hundreds of people marched through Taunton on Saturday in opposition to the cull. It also emerged over the weekend that Bridgwater MP Ian Liddell-Grainger had a dead badger left on his doorstep.