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High court blocks Northern Ireland badger cull
As many as 4,000 badgers could have been culled under the proposals.

The cull was to be a key part of Northern Ireland’s strategy to tackle bTB.

A high court judge in Northern Ireland has blocked a planned badger cull, following a legal challenge by animal welfare campaigners.

The cull had originally been announced by then agriculture minister Edwin Poots in March 2022 as a key part of a bovine tuberculosis (bTB) eradication strategy for Northern Ireland.

However, following a legal challenge brought by Wild Justice and the Northern Ireland Badger Group, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) will now have to suspend the planned cull.

Delivering his ruling on Wednesday, 25 October, Mr Justice Scofield found that before announcing the policy, DAERA had not conducted a fair and lawful public consultation and failed to advise the minister about animal welfare concerns.

The department carried out a consultation in 2021, which received more than 3,000 responses, but the judge ruled that insufficient information was provided to those responding to the consultation about the basis for the proposed decision.

As the topic was 'highly emotive' and involved a 'highly contested scientific backdrop', the department should have disclosed much more of its rationale,
according to the judgement.

In March this year, herd incidence of bTB in Northern Ireland reached a record high. It has not yet been announced whether DAERA will conduct a new consultation.

Mike Rendle of the Northern Ireland Badger Group said: “Today’s judgement has vindicated our very grave concerns about the way the bovine TB strategy consultation was conducted and the decision to implement a farmer-led cull which would inflict immense suffering on great numbers of healthy badgers.”


Image (C) Shutterstock

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VMG president joins House of Lords

News Story 1
 Miles Russell, president of the Veterinary Management Group (VMG), has been elected to the House of Lords as a crossbench hereditary peer.

He will join Lord Trees as a representative of the veterinary sector in the second chamber of the UK parliament.

Lord Russell said: "Those of us working in the animal health and veterinary sectors are only too aware of the importance of the work we do and the challenges we face.

"I will use my platform in the House of Lords to increase understanding of our sectors and to promote positive change." 

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News Shorts
Sixth case of bluetongue confirmed

A sixth case of bluetongue virus serotype 3 has been confirmed in the UK.

The case was detected in an animal on a premises linked to one of the farms within the Temporary Control Zone (TCZ) currently in place near Canterbury, Kent.

In response, the Animal and Plant Health Agency has extended the TCZ. Investigations into the spread of the disease are ongoing.

The cases in Kent come at a time when a new strain of the virus has spread rapidly across farms in the Netherlands. Both the Government and the British Veterinary Association have urged livestock keepers to remain vigilant.

Bluetongue is a notifiable disease and suspected cases must be reported immediately on 03000 200 301 in England or 03003 038 268 in Wales. In Scotland, possible cases should be reported to the local field services office.