Thousands of badgers will be shot in England next year, in an effort to stop them spreading tuberculosis.
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman told the House of Commons that nearly 25,000 cattle were slaughtered in England last year because of bovine TB. Over the next 10 years the cost to the taxpayer was set to reach £1 billion.
Mrs Spelman said she knew there was "a great strength of feeling on the issue" and she realised how much opposition there was to a cull, but action had to be taken before the situation got worse.
Activists have pledged to take action and police have warned that they may not be able to cope.
In a memo to the Government, Detective Chief Superintendent Adrian Tudway is reported to have warned that the likely clashes will strain the police force and put lives at risk.
The National Farmers Union says there is potential for serious confrontation.