Network for Animals is pleased to announce that The Badger Trust’s attempts to secure a judicial review of the decision by DEFRA to commence a pilot cull of badgers in England this year has been successful.

Mr Justice Irwin, the judge presiding over the request, noted that the evidence presented by DEFRA to support the culling of badgers in two locations this autumn as part of their programme for the eradication of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) could potentially exacerbate the problem rather than solve it.  The news that the case, likely to be heard in the High Court in June 2012, will be going ahead was met with delight by animal welfare groups across the country.

The controversial culling of badgers, due to commence in West Gloucestershire and Somerset later this year, is aimed at reducing bTB, a devastating disease affecting farms across England and Wales.  However, the government’s plans have come under fire due to the poor predictions for the effectiveness of the cull, the cancellation of vaccine trials, high costs and a lack of consideration for animal welfare.

The Badger Trust are seeking to challenge the decision to cull on three grounds, including the argument that the cull fails to meet the legal requirement to prevent the spread of disease, the flawed cost-impact assessment supporting the decision to allow the free-shooting of badgers and the use of Natural England as the licensing body for the cull.

Fighting the cull via the legal system has been a consistently successful method for The Badger Trust, but comes at great financial cost.  Network for Animals was pleased to be able to contribute significantly to their legal fund in 2011 and fully support recent developments.

Andrew Plumbly, Executive Director of Network for Animals said, “DEFRA’s decision to plough ahead with plans to cull badgers using an untested, risky method with little regard for animal welfare is unacceptable.  We welcome the news that some of their claims are going to be scrutinised in the High Court and hope that this leads to the implementation of a science-led strategy for the eradication of TB.”

Last Month, the Welsh Assembly announced they would be scrapping their plans for a badger cull in favour of a five-year vaccination trial.  The news of the judicial review casts doubt on whether the cull will commence in England this year.