Up to 4,686 badgers can be culled in Cornwall between now and the end of January next year following the start of ‘open season’.

Natural England has licensed and authorised 11 new supplementary badger control areas nationally, to begin operations in 2023.

It has also authorised the licence holders to resume operations in 18 existing supplementary badger control areas in 2023.

In Cornwall the following areas are licensed as of May 16 this year – the table shows the area number and county, minimum number of badgers to cull, the maximum number of badgers, authorisation date and the year of operations.

Area 4 - Cornwall              131        380        16 May 2023      Year 4

Area 5 - Cornwall              152        461        16 May 2023      Year 4

Area 22 – Cornwall          448        1948      16 May 2023      Year 2

Area 35 – Cornwall          263        1897      16 May 2023      Year 1

There are criteria around the culling, which states that any traps not in use must be securely fixed open or closed in such a way as to ensure that they are incapable of catching animals.

Traps which are set to catch must be checked as soon as practicable after dawn each morning and, in any event, not later than 9.30 am between May and August, 10.30am in September and 11.30 am during October and November.

The directions also state that all reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that such animals are dispatched swiftly and humanely.

The licence allows live-capture cage trapping and humane dispatch of trapped badgers by shooting between June 1 and November 30, and controlled shooting of badgers from June 1 to January 31.

However the Badger Trust has spoken of its concern, saying: “The future of the badger is now seriously under threat, especially in areas of Gloucestershire, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall. 

“And culling resumes at a time when new cubs are just starting to venture further from their setts.”

Peter Hambly, executive director of the Badger Trust, said: “At the same time as we say we want to be more nature-friendly by 2030, we are killing our native wildlife on a daily basis – to the brink of extinction in some areas of England. 

“All this when the evidence overwhelmingly points to cattle-to-cattle transmission as the primary spreader of bovine TB.

“The badger cull is the most toxic wildlife management strategy in Britain’s contemporary history. To kill half of our badger population under these circumstances is a wildlife catastrophe.”

The Trust pointed to the system in Wales and Scotland, where badgers are not killed but instead cattle-focused measures are prioritised, such as restricting movements.