Nearly 63,000 badgers face being slaughtered in the latest Tory cull of the creatures, it emerged today.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs revealed which areas of England have been granted licences – with the annual bloodbath now widened to 11 new areas.
Fresh zones will be setup in Avon, Cheshire, Cornwall, Staffordshire, Devon, Dorset, Hertfordshire and Wiltshire.
Culling will also continue in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Somerset and Cumbria.
Supporters say killing badgers helps curb TB in cows, with Brock blamed for carrying the disease around the countryside, infecting cattle.
But opponents believe it is cruel and ineffective.
Badger Trust chief executive Dominic Dyer said: “Despite the Government being on the verge of collapse and Parliament being shut for five weeks ahead of a general election, the Defra Secretary Theresa Villiers has today signed off on the largest destruction of protected species in living memory.
“As a result of approving 11 new badger cull licences, over 60,000 badgers are likely to be killed in 40 areas of England from Cornwall to Cumbria by end of November 2019.
“This will take the number of badgers killed since the cull started in 2013 to over 130,000 pushing the species to verge of local extinction in areas of England which it has inhabited since the Ice Age.”
Some 67,154 badgers have been killed in the mass culling scheme since 2013, mainly through shooting.
A total of 32,601 of the creatures were killed last year in 32 areas across Dorset, Cornwall, Devon, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Cheshire, Somerset, Wiltshire, Staffordshire and Cumbria, as part of the Government-backed programme.
Last November, a Government-backed review into the cull called on farmers to toughen up controls to prevent TB spreading in their cattle.
A 138-page study into the killing programme said farmers should shoulder extra costs to protect their cows.
They also pointed to figures showing that more than 33,000 cattle had to be slaughtered in 2017 England to control the disease, “causing devastation and distress for farmers and rural communities”.