15 August 2013
LANDOWNING rock star Brian May has joined forces wth fellow campaigners for a letter to David Cameron demanding a U-turn on the badger cull. The musician and stargazer, who has land near Bere Regis, is among the signatories on the missive to the PM calling for the killings to be stopped.
Andrew Butler, founder of Dorset for Badger and Bovine Welfare, has also added his name to the list, which includes other celebrities as well as wildlife campaigners. It comes as pilot badger culls are due to start in Somerset and Gloucestershire. Dorset is earmarked for one of the first schemes next year.
Guitarist May, of the Save-Me campaign against the cull, said: “On behalf of supporters of the Save-Me campaign and 263,000 signatories of the anti-badger cull petition on the Government’s website, we would like to remind the Government that there is massive public opposition to this ill-fated cull. It is becoming ever more clear the cull will not be of any advantage to cattle or farmers.
“The Government is acting, for political motives, on a course which cannot succeed in eradicating Bovine TB. We urge David Cameron to take positive action to accelerate progress towards vaccination of wildlife and, most importantly, vaccination of the source of bTB in this country – cattle – along with a full review of the skin test method of removing supposed reactive animals from herds, and an overhaul of biosecurity and movement control measures.”
Sir Roger Moore, Dame Judi Dench, Joanna Lumley, Brian Blessed, Martin Shaw, Anthony Head and Virginia McKenna are among the celebrities, scientists, naturalists, veterinarians and animal welfare and conservation groups to have signed.
The letter to the PM called for the cull to be stopped in favour of vaccination, improved testing and better bio-security.
The pilot culls are to go ahead by free shooting or cage trapping and shooting for a period of six weeks in secret areas of Somerset and Gloucestershire. If successful, they could be rolled out next year. The Environment Secretary Owen Paterson praised Dorset farmers earlier this year as the county stood by as a reserve site for the test culls. He has also earmarked Dorset as one of 10 sites when he spoke recently in Cornwall.
The Dorset National Farmers Union NFU has welcomed Mr Paterson’s comments.
SOME 35,000 cattle had to be slaughtered because of the TB in 2001. The NFU has warned that the disease could break the back of the livestock industry in the south west, which is the worst affected region in the country. The NFU is calling for the rapid roll-out of badger culling and a cattle movement regime allowing farmers to trade freely, which it says will eradicate the disease and allow England to become TB-free. It says that tackling the disease in the badger population via widespread culling must be a priority.