A letter urging Oxford University scientists to back calls for an end to the badger cull has been delivered to the university alongside a petition with more than 12,000 signatures.

Oxfordshire Badger Group delivered the open letter and petition to the Department of Biology on April 17.

The group describes the cull as "cruel and ineffective" adding that the scientist's research has been "misused" to "justify the killings".

The Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the government have cited the scientific works of Oxford University as grounds for the cull.

Oxford Mail: The group is calling on Oxford University researchers to support them in opposing the cullThe group is calling on Oxford University researchers to support them in opposing the cull (Image: Oxfordshire Badger Group)

The petition, 'Oxford Scientists Must Speak Out Against Badger Extermination', was launched two weeks ago and is still garnering signatures.

The number of signatures currently stands at 12,003 and has been increasing by more than 1,000 each day.

The group chose to deliver their plea before the DEFRA consultation on extending and intensifying culling closes on April 22, allowing the scientists time to consider their stance on the matter.

The most recent figures detailing the number of badgers killed as part of the culling policy have been released, showing a total of 230,125 dead badgers since 2012.

Oxford Mail: 230,125 have been killed since 2012230,125 have been killed since 2012 (Image: File picture)

The report found that in areas heavily culled, such as Cornwall, Devon and Dorset, it was difficult to reach minimum kill targets, which Oxfordshire Badger Group say is due to a lack of badgers.

In Oxfordshire, 822 badgers were culled, which is 549 fewer than in 2022.

The group argue this reduction is a result of intensive culling in previous years.

One of the university's senior scientists, Professor David Macdonald, commented on the current state of knowledge.

It is hoped more voices from the scientific community will lend their weight to the issue during DEFRA's formal consultation.

The comments on the petition saw people urging the government to stop the cull.

One described it as "cruel and unscientific" while another said they were "at a loss for words", urging the scientists to "speak out to the government".

Peter Hambly, the executive director of the Badger Trust, said: "When they can't find badgers to kill, you know we are near local extinction events.

"After 250,000 years of badgers on this land, we may be nearing the end of the badger in some areas."

Another comment on the petition said: "I can't believe that the scientists at Oxford University aren't trying harder to stop this travesty.

"Your reputations will not be tarnished by acknowledging that scientific knowledge moves on.

"Please may we implore you to accept that you now have a responsibility to save this species."