The Badger Trust will not make a legal challenge ahead of DEFRA’s proposed culling trials in the West Country, Farmers Weekly has learned.

Trust spokesman Jack Reedy told Farmers Weekly that there was “insufficient information on which to base a challenge at this stage”.

“There is no legal action we can take. The pilot trials will have to go ahead,” he said.

“We will, however, be watching very carefully during the trials and in particular will scrutinise DEFRA’s accounting of badger numbers killed.”

DEFRA believes it can kill 70% of badgers in area to make this an effective method of tackling the disease, he said.

“But that is absolute rubbish. The areas are eight miles by eight miles square. It will not be possible to say accurately whether it has achieved the necessary 70% of badgers to make this worthwhile.”

Mr Reedy also claimed the trials were based on prejudice and not science.

The areas have not been chosen to assess whether shooting can be an effective method of culling. They have been chosen in places where shooting will be as good as it possibly can be, he said.

“So the trials are prejudice-led, not science-led. In other words they have been rigged.”

“The government has got this badly wrong. Other diseases in cattle, like mastitis, account for far higher losses in the dairy industry. The cull is a waste of time and money.”

Meanwhile Mr Reedy’s words have been echoed by the shadow DEFRA secretary Mary Creagh.

“For a cull to work it has to be cost-effective, humane and reduce bovine TB. The Government’s plans will achieve none of those things.

“This big society badger cull will cost farmers more than it saves them, put a huge strain on police, and will spread bovine TB in the short term as badgers move out of cull areas,” Ms Creagh said.

“At the end of the cull, 84% of the TB problem will still remain,” she said.