A two week public consultation into badger culling in Oxfordshire and Warwickshire began on Monday.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Natural England have received applications to shoot badgers in Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Avon, Berkshire, Derbyshire, Hampshire, Shropshire and Staffordshire.
Various reports estimate the numbers culled last year from 19,000 to 20,000 in the last three months of 2017 alone. These were animals killed in culls across Dorset, Cornwall, Devon, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Cheshire, Somerset and Wiltshire.
Supporters say culling helps to limit bovine TB which is very costly to cattle farmers.
Oxfordshire Badger Group said: “The government seems hell bent on rolling the cull out to more and more regions. There is no scientific justification and the costs to badgers, people, communities and taxpayers are horrendous. Leading scientists and majority of the public oppose the cull.”
The group says the cull is a political issue with a ‘powerful lobby’ wanting to weaken wildlife and environmental regulation and hand control to landowners and farmers.
Badgers have protected status. They can delay building by up to six months. The blood sports industry views them as a threat to game birds and badger setts offer foxes sanctuary from illegal hunts, the group says.
To have your say on the badger cull click here.