A High Court hearing challenging whether the badger cull should go ahead without independent monitoring will give judgement at a later date.
The Badger Trust argued that “controlled shooting” in bovine TB (bTB) hotspots Somerset and Gloucestershire should only take place with an independent expert panel (IEP) to monitor the cull.
Lawyers for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) stated monitoring was only indented to run in the first year.
Last year’s IEP labelled the first of the cull trials as “inhumane and ineffective”, but ministers insist the cull is necessary to rid the UK of bTB.
Wendy Higgins, EU communications director at Humane Society International/UK, said: “Lack of independent oversight of this year’s badger slaughter is a truly disgraceful omission on Defra’s part. The IEP shed a vital spotlight of scrutiny on the pilot culls last year.
“It would seem its damning conclusions that the shooting was both inhumane and ineffective was an inconvenient truth for Defra. Instead of taking those conclusions on board and abandoning the cull, it has removed the IEP’s role altogether. We are heartened the High Court judge has listened to the Badger Trust’s case and taken time to deliberate.
“The trust’s call for independent scrutiny in the face of what is likely to be yet another disastrous cull, should not be too much to ask for and we hope for a favourable conclusion. As we await the result, we have to ask ourselves, what is it about the badger cull that Defra is so keen to keep out of the public eye?”
Defra said it would not comment while the High Court case was in progress.
A spokesman said: “However, we have always been clear that the IEP’s role was to oversee the six-week pilots in the first year of the culls.
“Overseas experience shows a comprehensive strategy is the way to make England disease free… [which] includes cattle movement controls and vaccinating healthy badgers.”