VICTORY: Plans for Northern Ireland badger cull quashed

Good news! Wild Justice and the Northern Ireland Badger Group (NIBG) have announced that they have won a judicial review, stopping the proposed badger cull in Northern Ireland.

The press release from their solicitors, Leigh Day, states:

“In a judgement handed down in Belfast this morning, Wednesday 25 October 2023, it was ruled that the 2021 consultation into the decision to allow the cull of up to 4,000 badgers a year was so fundamentally flawed as to be unlawful. Therefore, the resulting decision to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) by allowing farmer-led groups to shoot free-roaming badgers with rifles was also unlawful and the policy has been quashed.”

Wild Justice and NIBG brought the judicial review to challenge Northern Ireland’s Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

Leigh Day reported that the judge, Mr Justice Scoffield, agreed that DAERA’s 2021 consultation didn’t give consultees sufficient information “to permit them to engage meaningfully with the Department’s thinking”. Apparently the consultation referred to a “business case” as the basis for culling badgers, but didn’t actually provide Wild Justice or NIBG with said case. Leigh Day said:

“Wild Justice and NIBG argued that because they didn’t have the business case, they couldn’t meaningfully engage with the consultation process and as such the process and the resulting decision were ineffective and unlawful.”

The law firm continued:

“They also argued that the Minister failed to properly consider the responses they were able to make. For example, their views on the humaneness of the options available does not appear to have been factored into the decision-making process. The possibility that informed consultation responses could have affected the outcome is clear because when the options were scored, the most humane option (Test, Vaccinate and Remove (TVR) scored only 10 per cent lower than the least humane option chosen (a non-selective cull).”



Ready to challenge future proposed cull

The organisations are obviously thrilled that their efforts have quashed the cull. But they are aware that this may not be the end. Wild Justice said:

“We are mindful that DAERA may try again to implement a similar policy and we stand ready to challenge any proposal that fails to comply with due consideration of not just public law, but also of the scientific evidence and welfare aspects associated with such action.”

Indeed, we previously reported on how the men advising DAERA on the cull in Northern Ireland had a vested interest in the murdering badgers.

Mike Rendle of NIBG said:

“The scientific evidence clearly shows that cattle, not badgers, are driving bovine TB in Northern Ireland. Badger culling is not only cruel and ineffective, it is a costly distraction that has no benefit for cattle, farmers or badgers.”

As Protect the Wild has pointed out time and time again, various studies have shown that the supposed science behind the badger cull is dangerously inaccurate. A most recent study in England showed that the cull is devised in “a culture of flawed government veterinary beliefs”, and has no meaningful impact on combating bovine TB (bTB) in cows. The authors argue that an independent inquiry in England is needed.

DAERA must enforce stricter farming measures

As Wild Justice and NIBG remain vigilant about future DAERA plans, Protect the Wild argues that the department needs to implement stricter measures on farmers in Northern Ireland. In a 2022 report, DAERA admitted:

“Poor herd health management and lax biosecurity increases the risk of disease, impacts on farm health, productivity and costs, and ultimately adversely affects farm business profitability. It also increases the risk of disease spread to neighbouring herds.”

It also stated that:

“The importance of cleansing and disinfection generally is of paramount importance and farmers should thoroughly clean and disinfect vehicles and equipment after transportation of farm animals.”

Despite this, DAERA was pushing for the scapegoating and murder of badgers. We have seen how the past decade of culling badgers in England hasn’t combatted bTB in cows. Let’s hope that Wild Justice and NIBG’s victory makes the Northern Ireland government see sense and tackle the disease at the source, which is in cow farms and cattle markets themselves.


Did you know?

  • Protect the Wild is totally opposed to the Badger Cull and is working to end crimes against badgers. See End Badger Persecution
  • Our Protecting the Wild Equipment Fund is helping activists against the cull by providing equipment like body cams and night vision optics. See Equipment Fund
  • Protect the Wild has a page of FAQS explaining how to recognise, record, and report crimes against Badgers. See Protectors of the Wild – Badgers and the Law
  • Our wonderful supporters helped a community protect a badger sett near Brighton! See BADGERS SAVED!
  • We released an undercover investigation into the badger cull last year.
  • If you’d like to support our work, why not adopt a Badger with Protect the Wild. See Adopt a Badger