Badger Trust to appeal over culls

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Published: Thursday 9th October 2014 by The News Editor

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The Badger Trust is going to the Court of Appeal in its battle over the legality of the latest badger culls.

The challenge arises from the Government’s decision to sanction a second year of “controlled shooting” of free-roaming badgers in Gloucestershire and Somerset – this year without monitoring by an independent expert panel (IEP).

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is using the two pilot schemes to test whether the shooting method can be rolled out to other parts of England to tackle tuberculosis in cattle.

Opponents say culling is inhumane and ineffective and alternatives such as vaccination should be pursued.

Last year, the first year of the four-year pilot programme, an IEP reported that controlled shooting could not deliver the level of culling needed to bring about a reduction in bovine TB and was not humane.

Defra decided to continue the programme this year without an IEP in place and the cull is currently under way.

Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss is being accused of breaching a “legitimate expectation” that an IEP would monitor the entire pilot cull.

Mr Justice Kenneth Parker ruled at London’s High Court that there were “no plausible grounds” to support the legitimate expectation claim.

Today the Trust will ask appeal judges to rule the single judge went wrong in law.

The Trust says there can be no proper independent assessment of the safety, effectiveness and humaneness of the culling operation without an IEP.

Professor Tim Coulson, a member of the 2013 IEP, said the panel’s report clearly showed the rationale for ensuring independent monitoring continued.

He said: “If this scientific advice is ignored then the data collected during the 2014 culls will be insufficiently reliable for assessment of humaneness and effectiveness.

“This means that farmers, veterinarians and scientists intimately involved in controlling bovine TB will be denied the information necessary to allow them to assess whether the IEP’s recommended changes to the culling process have corrected the failings identified by the pilot culls.”

The Government and farmers insist that culling is necessary to tackle TB in livestock, which saw more than 26,000 cattle slaughtered in England last year and multimillion-pound losses.

Published: Thursday 9th October 2014 by The News Editor

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