The Badger Trust’s Court of Appeal challenge was rejected yesterday, paving the way for thousands of badgers to be slaughtered within a matter of weeks.

Three Lord Justices at London’s Court of Appeal declared that the Badger Trust’s challenge against the legality of Defra’s decision to cull badgers was insufficient. The court appeal was centred around the Government’s plans to cull thousands of badgers in two pilot areas in West Somerset and West Gloucestershire as a means of tackling TB in cattle (bTB), despite the fact that the Government’s own best estimates predict only a 16% reduction in the disease through using this method.

Brian Davies, Founder of Network for Animals, said, “The Government have steam-rolled ahead with their inhumane and impractical approach of shooting badgers despite previous  research by The Independent Scientific Group (ISG) on bovine TB, which cost tax-payers nearly £50 million, proving that killing badgers in this way could actually increase the spread of the disease.  The vested interests of the farming lobby and the desire for a quick-fix solution comes at a great cost to English wildlife.”

Network for Animals (NFA), who have contributed financially to assist the Badger Trust with their legal fees and by helping fund rural vaccination projects run by their member groups in the cull zone, were in court to hear the bad news.

Campaign Manager, Christina Dixon, added, “This court decision wasn’t about science or animal welfare.  Many people there today felt that if it was we would be looking at a very different outcome.  We will continue to work with local groups to ensure that effective biosecurity, improved cattle welfare and vaccination are widely recognised as humane and effective alternatives to the cull, and we urge people in the cull zones to consider vaccinating badgers on their land rather than allowing culling.”

A key point to emerge in court was the fact that the ‘free shooting’ method proposed by the Government, which involves the shooting of badgers as they roam at night using high velocity rifles, will be reviewed after one year.  If it is deemed unsuccessful the cull will still need to continue for a further three years using a cage trapping and shooting method – which comes at a much greater cost to the farmers footing the bill for this project.  David Wolfe QC, for the Badger Trust, was also quick to point out the science, which demonstrates that although culling is likely to reduce bTB in the cull zone itself, previous trials have shown a sharp increase in bovine TB in the immediate surrounding area.

Network for Animals commend the great work the Badger Trust have done to try and stop the cull and urge the public to join with the thousands of voices already opposed by visiting our campaign site