Wales will press ahead with plans for a badger cull to control bovine tuberculosis in cattle – despite a fresh legal challenge from conservationists.
The Welsh Assembly Government said it would continue with preparations even though it faces opposition from the Badger Trust.
The trust has been granted permission to appeal a High Court decision that the plan to implement a cull of badgers in west Wales is lawful.
A Welsh Assembly Government spokesman said: “The evidence shows that culling badgers can reduce the incidence of TB in cattle.”
The assembly government was “disappointed” that the trust had decided to appeal the High Court judgement, he added.
“The bovine TB eradication programme involves a comprehensive set of measures including tighter cattle controls, increased cattle testing and better biosecurity, as well as a limited cull of badgers.”
Wales wanted to follow the example set by New Zealand where culling had been successful, the spokesman added.
The New Zealand Animal Health Board recently announced that the number of herds testing positive to TB had fallen to an all-time low.
“This disease has cost the taxpayer £100m over the last 10 years in compensation payments,” the spokesman said.
“If we are to be successful in eradicating the disease from Wales, we must tackle all sources of infection, including the reservoir of infection in wildlife.
“It is our intention to begin to cull badgers from the intensive action pilot area in west Wales as soon as preparations are complete.”