7 September 2013
Rock legend Brian May has revisited Gloucestershire to “give moral support” to anti-badger cull supporters. The Queen guitarist was applauded when he and 50 others took part in a wounded badger patrol walk near Tewkesbury on Friday night.
Some 300 people also marched through Taunton in Somerset earlier in protest at the ongoing badger culls.
About 5,000 badgers are to be shot in a six week-period in Gloucestershire and Somerset in a bid to curb bovine TB.
An e-petition launched by Mr May, calling on the government to halt the pilot, has now closed with about 300,000 signatures.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has said it is necessary and can make a meaningful contribution to controlling TB.
However, Mr May – who visited Gloucestershire last year to address a public meeting in Stroud – said the government was “doing something very immoral in our name, using our money. I’m here to support our people who are here on the ground doing what they can to observe and try and make sure that humanity is followed in this cull and trying to save the lives of badgers”, he added. “We are a nation of animal lovers and we are decent people. It’s a desperate situation and a bloody situation in the countryside and if this rolls out all through England it’s a disaster.”
Eighty miles away (129km) the strength of feeling against the cull was displayed by 300 people who took part in a march through Taunton, hosted by the Somerset Badger Patrol group.
The pilot began last week in Somerset and is now under way in Gloucestershire, but no-one involved will say how many badgers have been shot or killed so far. Defra has said an independent expert board would scrutinise information on the safety, effectiveness and humaneness of the pilots once they have concluded. A report will then be published and, if seen as being successful, the cull plans could be rolled out more widely in areas which are hotspots for TB in cattle.