Last week the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) confirmed that a plan to cull thousands of badgers will go ahead, despite mounting opposition and concerns over the cost of the operation.
Now the Badger Trust has mounted a last-ditch legal challenge in an attempt to block the policy and save the lives of thousands of badgers.
More than 150,000 people have signed a petition in a bid to reverse the policy, a move that seemed to have been effective as the Government cancelled plans for a press conference last week amid rumours that the Government could perform a policy u-turn.
A DEFRA statement on Thursday seemed to quash the rumours, confirming that the planned cull will commence in the coming weeks, with farmers being informed on the number of badgers that can legally be culled in the next few days.
However, yesterday The Observer newspaper confirmed that lawyers representing the Badger Trust had served a 16-page letter on Natural England, the government-led organisation put in charge of implementing the cull.
The letter cites growing concern that an underestimation of the number of badgers in cull areas will lead to a far larger-scale operation than was originally envisaged, resulting in much higher costs to the tax payer.
The cull is proposed to attempt to curb the rise in bovine TB, which is thought to be spread by badgers and kills thousands of cattle each year at a cost of £90m to the taxpayer.
National Farmers Union president Peter Kendall was honest in his assessment of the challenges that the policy faces.
"We are working bloody hard to make sure this is deliverable. The latest numbers are making this more challenging," he said.
The letter delivered to DEFRA is part of the civil court pre-action protocols, allowing Natural England to consider the grounds for a legal challenge. The Badger Trust can then proceed to a judicial review of the policy on the new grounds and can seek a court injunction to prevent the cull from taking place.