The Badger Trust has warned that it intends to take legal action against DEFRA unless the department drops plans to cull badgers.
DEFRA revealed the locations of two pilot culls on 19 January. The trials in Gloucestershire and Somerset were designed to assess whether controlled shooting of badgers could help cut bovine tuberculosis in cattle.
But in a letter to DEFRA on 9 February the trust said it was giving notice of the grounds of a challenge which it intended to pursue “if DEFRA does not set aside its decision to kill badgers in its measures to eradicate bovine tuberculosis”.
The trust added that its final position on the challenge should be known by 17 February.
David Williams, chairman of the Badger Trust, said: “The Badger Trust has responded in detail to both DEFRA’s consultation papers on culling and suggested viable alternatives.
“However, our concerns that the culls proposed will actually spread the disease have not been heeded. In the light of this and our concerns over the legality of the decision, we would be failing in our duty to badgers if we did not pursue a legal challenge despite the difficulty and cost risks involved,” Mr Williams said.
“If there is an opportunity to save many thousands of healthy badgers, as there is here, we must take it on behalf of the many local badger groups and supporters on whose behalf the Badger Trust works. If successful, it would also save farmers the expense of a policy which would not benefit them,” he added.
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