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Campaigners go to court to overturn cull decision

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: June 25, 2012

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Wildlife campaigners are today expected to launch a High Court legal challenge against the Government's proposed badger cull.

The Badger Trust hope the two-day judicial review will overturn what it believes are unscientific plans to shoot the animals in England. Trials are earmarked for West Somerset and West Gloucestershire.

Lawyers for the trust will ask the court to quash the decision to authorise culling made by the Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) last December.

According to the trust, culling will spread the disease amongst livestock – vaccination is its preferred option.

The trust hopes it can repeat its 2010 victory over the Welsh Assembly when a judicial review saw the plans to cull overturned.

The Welsh Government has dumped its bid to cull and will instead vaccinate badgers.

David Williams, chairman of the Badger Trust, said the charity had a legal duty to mount the challenge.

He said: "We see it as our duty to use all legal means of persuasion and scientific argument to overturn this decision which risks making a bad situation even worse."

Gwendolen Morgan, solicitor for the trust, said culling would cause rather than prevent disease in cattle and therefore failed the legal test for licensing.

She added: "In terms of its cost-benefit analysis, Defra made a decision on basis A, when in reality the plan may well be rolled out on basis B.

"As a matter of public law, that is unlawful."

The trust argues government guidance given to Natural England who are responsible for licensing was legally flawed.

They claim killing badgers was not one of Natural England's original functions and legally culling badgers to prevent disease lies in the hands of the Secretary of State.

Ms Morgan said: "Defra's culling plans are bad for farmers, bad for cattle, and bad for badgers. The plans cost millions, and threaten to prompt rather than prevent the spread of disease."

Humane Society International/UK backs the legal move.

Mark Jones, veterinarian and executive director at the society, said: "As a plan to eradicate tuberculosis in cattle, it lacks any scientific credibility. Consequently, the badger cull finds itself opposed by a host of scientific, conservation and welfare experts and the subject of multiple legal challenges."

One Cornish farmer, who asked not to be named, said vaccination was costly and insisted the cull was necessary to protect livestock and prevent farmers going out of business.

He said: "We're not talking about wiping out the whole of the badger population just reducing numbers to beat the disease.

"Vaccination will cost millions of taxpayers' pounds and we have no idea how effective it will be."

A decision from the High Court is expected in several weeks' time.

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  • Charlespk  |  June 28 2012, 6:00PM

    For all those who care about Prime Livestock. . Many bloodlines are now being lost because of badgers spreading M.bovis. http://tinyurl.com/86pr3qv ( open in a new window) . Vote. http://tinyurl.com/7jhpp6h (open in a new window)

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  • homerjay  |  June 28 2012, 1:34PM

    I see you're still running 3 computers....think of your carbon footprint...1 red arrow is adequate

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  • homerjay  |  June 28 2012, 12:00AM

    Isn't Man amazing? He kills wildlife by the million in order to protect His domestic animal and their feed----- then he kills His domestic animals by the billion and eats them, which in turn kills Man by the million with heart disease and cancers etc.----- So then Man tortures and kills millions more animals in 'research' to search for cures for these diseases----Meanwhile in the third World millions die of starvation because the grain is being used to fatten the 'food animals' Man who hypocritically kills and abuses ALL animals so easily then sends His fellow creatures an annual wish of Peace on Earth. GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF THE SAND! CDC

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  • badgerhugger  |  June 27 2012, 7:39PM

    Charlespk heads his comment "The truth about Krebs Science" then proceeds to present a diatribe which is nothing but here-say and personal opinion from a guy who thinks that non-scientific hands on involvement and working on logistics for the RAF qualify him to discredit a report by the country's most eminent scientific experts.

  • Charlespk  |  June 26 2012, 9:29PM

    THE TRUTH ABOUT THE KREBS 'SCIENCE' Memorandum submitted by P Caruana (BTB 33) House of Commons - Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - Written Evidence Page 1 of 3 14/02/2010

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  • Charlespk  |  June 26 2012, 9:27PM

    "My name is Paul Caruana and I work for the a Defra Wildlife Unit (Polwhele) that is currently wrapping up the Krebs Trial. I have worked in the Unit for twelve years; five as a fields person, four as a Field Supervisor and the last three as a Field Manager (Higher Scientific Officer). I have been involved in the live testing regimes of the early 1990s, the Badger Removal Operations of the mid 1990s and the current Krebs Trial since its inception. I feel that my experience as an ex-RAF Logistics Officer and as an individual that has had a lot of 'hands on' experience could be valuable to any balanced and rational debate affecting the future handling of the current TB epidemic." 1. Badger removal operations worked well when the land being culled was made fully available, not just the area dictated to us by vets. 2. Where badgers were totally removed from a farm, that farm, after it had its infected cattle culled, often stayed clear of TB for up to 10 years. 3. We stayed on farms for up to three months to ensure that ALL badgers were caught; unlike the Krebs eight days per year trapping regime. 4. You do not need large scale culling for it to be effective if the culling effort is robust from the start. 5. Krebs had too many anomalies and weaknesses in the strategy for it to be successful. It took us four years to steer away from trapping setts that had been interfered with by Animal Rights Activist, to being able to trap badgers anywhere in order to eliminate them. That is only one of a raft of operational problems we faced and had to endure. 6. Limited trapping; eight days per year with Krebs; has little effect if carried out late in the year; the effect being that areas went almost two years without an effective cull. 7. The costs for a future culling policy must NOT be based on Krebs costings. The Wildlife Unit have many great ideas on how to reduce costs vastly should the State remain involved in it. Give the Unit the chance to see how innovative it can be when it comes to reducing operating costs. Krebs was ridiculously expensive for what it delivered. 8. The Public and the NFU are demanding that "professionals" remain involved to ensure adequate training is given to those with the task to do, and to ensure that animal welfare and humaneness remains a number one priority. Overseeing the task will give some comfort to those who fear that this might not be the way. 9. Compulsory entry onto farms is a must when considering what Policy to adopt. Making farms who receive Government subsidies participate in one of its schemes must be made compulsory. Krebs has proven that wide scale non-cooperation does make it nigh on impossible to operate effectively. 10. The Krebs Reactive strategy was prematurely ended in my opinion. The results used also showed us that, in areas we had never operated in (areas J2 and H1 which had a very limited cull) also displayed the same increase in TB outside of the areas. That has to have another logical reason for the increase, as it clearly was not badger culling related. This point has yet to be satisfactorily answered. 11. The combined knowledge of the staff involved in all of the previous culling strategies has never been utilised or sought when putting together a Policy. Why can't the common sense approach ever be used when facing problems such as TB. We feel that we have the answers, if only somebody would listen to us. Details of the possible ways of operating are being submitted to the TB Consultation committee. 12. Be prepared to change a policy, to let it evolve, is a must. All strategies have seen staff restrained in what they would like to do, often flying in the face of common sense. Taking the risk; isn't that what it often needs to make things work properly? We have been shackled for too many years by rules and red tape. Now is the time to be radical and make things change for the better.

  • Grumpygutz  |  June 26 2012, 1:43PM

    and of course there is no scientific proof of the existence of god either.

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  • chas47  |  June 26 2012, 6:16AM

    No scientific evidence supports the cull. Not that it makes any difference to farmers, who routinely kill badgers and dump them in the road to appear like roadkill.

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  • Grumpygutz  |  June 25 2012, 8:45PM

    here we go again, it's only flea ridden animals after all. shoot the lot I say !

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  • Rockall2011  |  June 25 2012, 9:53AM

    ...and quite right to. The proposed cull is flawed environmentally and scientifically, which from all the evidence I've seen on both sides of the argument, is more than likely to make things worse for cattle.