The Badger Trust is considering a fresh legal challenge to stop the pilot culls continuing for a second year in the South West.

Dominic Dyer, chief executive of the Badger Trust, said: “We are seeking legal advice and reviewing what legal action we can make to stop the pilot culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire.

“We have been discussing legal action with our legal advisers. We are moving in the direction to look at this as a viable option.”

He added that the trust could make a final decision as early as next week over whether to launch a new legal challenge.

The charity has previously lodged two judicial reviews with the Court of Appeal in London over the government’s decision to allow badgers to be culled in England to tackle bovine TB.

But on both occasions, judges rejected the appeals.

See also: More on the badger cull

Mr Dyer, who is also policy adviser to animal welfare charity Care for the Wild, said the Independent Expert Panel’s report on the pilot culls had shown that culling badgers using the methods of free shooting and cage trapping and shooting had been shown to be ineffective and humane.

“We are trying to engage. We want to find solutions to these problems,” he added. “We don’t want to be seen to say to farmers, ‘we don’t care about the difficulties you face’.

“We are happy that we have not got a national cull and the government has announced badger vaccination in the edge areas and tighter cattle controls.

“But all this focus on culling badgers isn’t helping anyone. Everybody should be talking more about the reductions in TB outbreaks.”

He also urged the NFU to lobby the EU harder to allow the UK to host cattle vaccination field trials as soon as possible.

“The NFU should get behind Wales’ chief veterinary officer Christianne Glossop, who has sympathy with some of the culling arguments, but is working hard to say, ‘we want to have a trial of cattle vaccination in Wales in 18 months’ time’.”

NFU president Meurig Raymond said: “The NFU is keen to see cattle vaccination field trials take place as soon as possible. We have always supported the development and use of vaccines for cattle and badgers and welcome any efforts to speed up the process. But in the meantime we have to do everything we can to tackle this disease.

“The fall in the number of new TB cases last year and the number of cattle compulsorily slaughtered was good news, but the fact that more than 4,800 new herd incidents were recorded and more than 32,600 cattle were killed shows bovine TB still remains a massive problem for beef and dairy farmers.

“More and more we are seeing tighter cattle movement controls introduced but they are pointless without also tackling this disease in wildlife.”

A DEFRA spokesman said: “Bovine TB is a terrible disease which is devastating our cattle and dairy industries and causing misery to many people in rural communities.

“Tackling the infection in wildlife in high risk areas is an essential part of our strategy to achieve TB-free status.”

Read also: Opinion: Why effective culling is essential