Queen star Brian May rocks in to camp badger


17 September 2014

Brian May camp badger

Brian May of Save Me at the entrance to ‘Camp Badger’ in west Somerset. The Queen guitarist and leading badger cull opponent has spoken of his anger after a car belonging to a woman member of the Wounded Badger Patrol was vandalised while she was on patrol in west Somerset Picture: Steve Roberts [MORE PHOTOS]

Queen guitarist and leading badger cull opponent Brian May has spoken of his anger that a car belonging to a woman member of the Wounded Badger Patrol was vandalised while she was on patrol in west Somerset. Dr May and others ended up changing a wheel on the car when he arrived to meet patrol members on Monday night. One of the tyres appeared to have been punctured by an instrument similar to a bradawl.

Praising the patrols in the west Somerset and west Gloucestershire cull areas Dr May said opponents of the cull “will not give in to intimidation.”

Police are investigating the incident.

Dr May said: “It is quite a tough job the patrols are doing, obviously completely of their own volition, and to come back after a night trudging in the dark with people trying to fire guns around you and find this is not good.”

In a statement Avon and Somerset Police said: “We are investigating a report of criminal damage to the front tyre of a car which was in a car park opposite Cleeve Abbey in Washford. The damage happened sometime between 8.30pm and 10.15pm last night. If anyone has any information we would ask them to come forward.”

Dr May said: “The police were great. Sometimes the police get a bad press but everything I have seen has impressed me. They are working very hard to maintain impartiality and fairness and to focus on keeping the peace.”

This is the second year that the six-week culls are taking place in west Gloucestershire and west Somerset as part of the Department for Food and Rural Affairs package of measures to fight bovine TB. They are due to continue for a further two years.

Last year’s culls had to be extended because the numbers of animals shot by official shooting companies licensed by Natural England fell far short of the number that it had been estimated were needed to reduce the population by 70 per cent. A three-week extension was granted, and the number of animals needed to be killed was also reduced.

The Government and farmers insist that culling is necessary to tackle TB in livestock, which saw more than 26,000 cattle slaughtered in England last year, but opponents say it is inhumane and ineffective and alternatives such as vaccination should be pursued.

Dr May and his Save Me Trust advocate vaccination of badgers, and ultimately of cattle. He is critical of the Government’s claim that a vaccine for cattle, acceptable to the EU, is ten years away and cannot be achieved faster.

Last year an independent expert panel and Natural England monitored the cull. The independent experts found that controlled free-shooting could not deliver the level of culling needed and was not humane. Badgers can also be shot after being caught humanely in cage traps.

Yesterday when Dr May visited Stop The Cull’s Camp Badger in West Somerset, Stop The Cull spokesman Jay Tiernan announced that a badger had been found dead with an abdomen wound two fields away from where shooters were working. It was found overnight on Sunday/Monday. Mr Tiernan declined to reveal the location and said a postmortem has yet to be carried out.

Dr May said: “It appears to be evidence that suffering is growing, and it is quite incredible that this cull is being continued without any monitoring, any monitoring from the independent expert panel.”

An NFU spokesman said: “We have seen no evidence that a badger has been found. If one has been found there is no evidence to suggest it is associated with the cull.”

Some wildlife experts including Sir David Attenborough argue that the cull could spread the disease because surviving badgers would move into new territory.