WHEN little Jill the badger was discovered in a garden starving, distressed and homeless, her future prospects looked bleak.

But now the 10-week-old orphan is on the slow road to recovery thanks to round-the-clock care offered by Norton animal rescuer, Jean Thorpe.

She was discovered lying next to her dead sister in Silpho, near Snainton, but now the two-hourly bottle feeds of milk are starting to pay off and the cub is expected to return to the wild later this year.

Jean said: "At this time of year badger cubs should still be underground. We don't know what's happened to her and her sister. It's possible the mother was killed on the road.

"She's recovering really well although she's still not too sure about the bottle."

With the help of Jill, the rescuer, who has devoted her life to helping lost, injured and homeless animals and birds, is hoping to raise awareness of the plight of badgers elsewhere in the UK.

Last month the Welsh Assembly agreed to continue culling the animals in an attempt to control bovine TB. Some scientists believe badgers infected with TB can pass the disease onto cattle. Jean, a member of the Badger Trust, is now helping the organisation raise money to support a legal bid to have the programme quashed through the High Court.

She added: "Badgers are protected by law and this policy by the Welsh Assembly has nothing to do with science. I have yet to see evidence which proves the benefit of killing these protected species. Thank God there has never been TB in Ryedale's badgers and the animals get such a bad press. The culling is a poorly thought out policy and will have a limited impact on preventing the spread of the disease among cattle."