The badger cull and its negative impact on wildlife is a breach of the Bern Convention, claim anti-cull supporters.

The Badger Trust, Humane Society UK (HSI UK) and Care for the Wild have launched a challenge against the decision to cull badgers in England, on the basis that officials have failed to conduct risk assessments on the impact of the cull on wildlife.

In a complaint sent to the Secretariat of the Bern Convention, of which the UK has been a signatory since 1982, the charities claim the cull breaches the convention as it is unnecessary and could have a negative impact on wildlife.

Mark Jones, vet and executive director for HSI UK, said: “The Government has shown a blatant disregard for the supposedly protected status of badgers under UK law, or the near unanimous opposition to a badger cull by some of our most eminent scientists.

“So now we are taking our challenge to the Bern Convention, with yet more evidence to illustrate how badger culling is not only ineffective, inhumane and unnecessary, but also potentially very bad news for the wider ecosystem.”

The cull trials, which are in their second year, could legally start from June 1 in bTB hotspots Somerset and Gloucestershire.

Dominic Dyer, chief executive of The Badger Trust and policy advisor to Care for the Wild, said: “We hope this is the beginning of the end of badger culling in the UK. The UK Government has cut corners and turned a blind eye to the damage this policy will do – both to the badgers themselves and the rare birds and other animals affected when badgers are culled.

“The badger cull has been a shambles from the start, but it’s so unnecessary. Improved farming controls and tightening up on cattle movements have already led to big reductions in the disease – including a 50 per cent reduction last year in Somerset.

“If the Government and the farmers focused on what’s working, and on improving the accuracy of the bTB test, which misses large numbers of infected cows, they’d see they don’t need to be worrying about badgers.”

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