UK & World News
Australia: First Shark Killed As Cull Begins
A large shark has been shot dead off Australia's western coast - the first under a controversial culling policy brought in to cut the number of attacks on surfers and swimmers.
The three-metre (10ft) animal, believed to be a female tiger shark, one of three species on the government's kill list, was caught on bait lines off Meelup Beach near Dunsborough, south of Perth.
Government spokesman Simon Beaumont said a fisherman contracted to patrol the lines killed the shark and dumped its carcass at sea.
According to The West Australian newspaper, the creature was shot in the head four times at close range.
The cull, which allows baited drum lines with hooks to be set 1km (0.62 miles) off popular beaches until the end of April, was approved by Australia's national government last week.
Local marine experts have declared the area the deadliest in the world for shark attacks following six fatal maulings in the past two years.
However, the government's response has been criticised by environmentalists who claim there is no evidence it will reduce attacks.
They say it could even increase the danger by giving beach users a false sense of security.
The Conservation Council of Western Australia, which has campaigned against the cull, warned of a "pretty significant public backlash".
Its director Piers Verstegen said: "This is just going to increase the level of public opposition to the shark cull when people see images and hear stories of these sharks being culled.
"It is certainly a sad day for our marine life and for thousands of people opposed to killing endangered sharks."
Western Australia state premier Colin Barnett, who was heckled by members of the public at an event in Perth after the shooting was announced, said he got "no pleasure out of seeing sharks killed".
But he added: "I have an overriding responsibility to protect the people of Western Australia. That's what I'm doing."
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