A new report has claimed that the culling of badgers in Ireland has failed to stop the spread of TB in cattle.

A similar cull is planned in the UK, but the report backed by the Badgerwatch Ireland charity says levels of bovine TB are twice as high in Ireland.

The report claims that 6,000 snares are set every night in Ireland for badgers, leading to their virtual extinction, but levels of bovine TB are still double those in Britain where badgers are not culled.

The report, co-authored by Badgerwatch Ireland and the UK Badger Trust, claims the figures prove that killing badgers does not control or eradicate TB in cattle and that badgers are being used as a scapegoat.

The report says that just 0.4% of Ireland's cattle were slaughtered as a result of the disease last year.

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan, has rejected a the new report.

Ms Coughlan said that the wildlife strategy implemented by her department, which includes the targeted removal of badgers, is underpinned by peer reviewed research studies.

She said the studies demonstrate that the culling of infected badgers leads to a significant reduction in the incidence of TB in cattle.

A spokesperson for the badger trust said the killing of badgers here is disproportionate and has branded it an international disgrace.