Brian May launches the national Team Badger campaign
Brian May launches the national Team Badger campaign
in west London on 19 September. Photograph: Joel Ryan/AP

Campaigners hope for parliamentary debate on pilot cull of protected animals now that numerical threshold is reached

More than 100,000 people have signed a petition against a cull of badgers that is intended to tackle tuberculosis in cattle, in an attempt to prompt a parliamentary debate on it. The e-petition was launched by the Queen guitarist, Brian May, last week as part of the Team Badger campaign, after the first licence to kill the protected wild animal was issued for a pilot cull in Gloucestershire.

Reaching the 100,000-signature milestone means the issue could be debated in parliament, although this is not automatic.

Campaigners are angry over the government’s decision to push ahead with a cull of badgers, which the activists say will have an insignificant effect in reducing the disease in livestock; they want the focus to be shifted on to vaccination.

But supporters of the cull say the move is necessary in order to tackle TB in cattle because the wild animal spreads the disease to livestock, costing farmers and the taxpayer millions of pounds a year. A long-term study found that culling over a number of years on a large scale could reduce the incidence of TB in cattle herds by 16%.

Farmers will be licensed to shoot up to 70% of the badgers in a 300 sq km (116 sq mile) area in Gloucestershire. A second licence for a pilot cull in Somerset is still being considered.

24 September 2012