A survey to investigate badger carcases for evidence of tuberculosis is underway, after receiving funding from Defra.
The survey will be undertaken by a collaboration of veterinary schools from the Universities of Nottingham, Surrey and Liverpool and various stakeholders.
Its main aim is to determine whether or not badgers in the counties subject to the cattle TB epidemic have contracted TB, and if so how common it is.
In the wake of concern from animal rights groups over the survey, the University of Nottingham have been keen to stress live badgers will not be caught or sampled and no badgers will be harmed as a result of the study.
It will mirror a study in Cheshire in 2014, which made use of badgers accidentally killed on UK roads.
The study found about 20 per cent of road-killed badgers were infected with TB, with 10 per cent of those infected having developed signs of disease.
Carcases will be collected by various stakeholder groups such as farmers and other land owners collaborating within the project, and the post mortem examinations and testing for infections will be carried out by the veterinary schools.