The badger cull expected to start on Monday evening

The badger cull is expected to start next Monday evening, campaigners have predicted.

Although the timing of the pilot project has not been officially revealed, activists said next week was the most likely starting point, given recent manoeuvres by their opponents.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) have brought an injunction to try to stop protesters going near culling zones and are set to go to court for it tomorrow.

Campaigners also pointed to a "ramping up" of government and NFU media comments and press releases as evidence of a Monday starting date.

"After all the waiting, it looks like badgers are going to start dying on Bank Holiday Monday," Philip Mansbridge, CEO of wildlife charity Care for the Wild, said.

"This is nothing to celebrate. This is a political cull, and badgers are the scapegoats.

"Farmers won't benefit, the cattle won't benefit, and claims that this will actually help the badgers are laughable. This is David Cameron’s cull, and it is going to leave a very sad, empty space in our countryside."

Campaigners have raised strenuous objections to the NFU injunction, which they describe as a "massive attack on democratic protest" which would bar access to groups such as the Women's Institute and rotary clubs, many of whom plan to set up 'wounded badger' patrols.