The fate of thousands of badgers is hanging by a thread as an appeal was heard against proposals for two pilot culls on Tuesday.
Mr Justice Ouseley upheld proposals for the cull to tackle tuberculosis in cattle in July. Cost of the cattle losses was estimated at £91 million. The controversial scheme could eventually lead to culling in up to 10 areas per year.
The Badger Trust, which is appealing the ruling, claims England now faces the prospect of 40,000 badgers being "pointlessly killed" over the next four years. It insists the move to cull the badgers is illegal.
They argue that Caroline Spelman, then Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), was misusing her powers by allowing landowners and farmers to carry out the cull.
A Defra spokesman said: "No one wants to cull badgers but last year bovine TB led to the slaughter of over 26,000 cattle, and to help eradicate the disease it needs to be tackled in badgers."
A cull would be welcomed by the the National Farmers Union, the British Veterinary Association and British Cattle Veterinary Association
However opposition is growing toward the cull, with a rally led by Queen guitarist Brian May to be staged in Bristol on Tuesday afternoon.
A group are intended to protest in the College Green area of the city dressed as badgers, to highlight the cause.
Sir David Attenborough joined Joanna Lumley and Brian May to give his support to the badger trust saying "culling is not a viable policy option."
Badger Trust chairman David Williams said killing badgers makes no meaningful contribution to tackling the disease.
David Bowles, RSPCA director of communications, said: "We believe culling is not a long-term, sustainable solution and will be of little help in reducing the disease, perhaps even making things worse in some areas."
They argue that vaccination is the more sustainable and humane solution, and claim it has already been shown to significantly reduce the prevalence and severity of disease in badgers.
Lord Justice Laws, Lord Justice Rimer and Lord Justice Sullivan are expected to reserve their decision at the end of the estimated half-day appeal hearing.