READ BRIAN’S FULL STATEMENT ON SOAPBOX
23 August 2016 by Stuart Winter
QUEEN legend Brian May has hit out at the Government’s war on badgers today amid reports that a cull is to be expanded across the country. Animal welfare campaigners fear the animals are going to be targeted in five new areas as ministers ramp up the fight to tackle Bovine Tuberculosis.
Defra is refusing to be drawn on widespread reports that the cull is to be expanded across the West Country next month, with marksmen moving into North and South Devon, North Cornwall, West Dorset and South Herefordshire. Ministers have set a 25-year goal to make England TB free.
The Queen guitarist last month called on Prime Minister Theresa May and Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom to re-think the culling strategy which has already seen thousands of badgers culled across West Gloucestershire, West Somerset and Dorset over the past four years.
Today Dr May said the decision to kill more badgers was a disgrace and blamed a failed strategy for the cruelty of the cull and the huge cost to taxpayers.
Dr May, on behalf of the Save Me Trust and Team Badger, said:
“For anyone who hoped that a new Government would bring new wisdom this is massively disappointing. History will show that this whole sorry business – the tragedy of Bovine TB – was entirely due to infectious cows being undetected by the pitifully inadequate TB test and re-infecting the herd, causing multiple breakdowns. Apart from the morally indefensible cruelty to wild animals that this Government’s policy causes, the taxpayers’ money that is being wasted, and the farmers being completely misled and let down, perhaps the greatest scandal is the fact that the Government, in the shape of Defra, is still insisting on relying on the skin test, which causes anguish to farmers and cattle alike. We believe that this policy, alongside the placebo of badger culling that the farming community is being fobbed off with, is wholly responsible for the continued spread of Bovine TB.”
It is being said that the Government has so far licenced the killing of nearly 4,000 badgers at a cost of £25 million, although a death toll of up to 11,000 wild animals has been quoted.
The RSPCA is calling for a suite of measures, including vaccination and better biosecurity, as an alternative to killing one of the countryside’s most iconic creatures. The charity’s assistant director of public affairs, David Bowles, said: “We remain firmly opposed to plans for a widespread cull because we have not seen any evidence that the pilot culls have succeeded in reducing bovine TB in the cull areas, and we have serious concerns about the humaneness of the culling methods used.