31 August 2016 by Simon de Bruxelles
Activists from the Save Me Trust will patrol areas where the cull will start in the next few days, looking for wounded badgers
Militant animal welfare campaigners will attempt to disrupt the government’s badger cull after it was extended to seven new areas.
Activists from the Save Me Trust, founded by the Queen guitarist Brian May, will patrol areas where the cull will start in the next few days, looking for wounded badgers. They will then use torches and whistles to move badgers out of danger.
Culls have taken place in parts of the west country over the past three years and will be extended to new areas of Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Cornwall, Devon and Dorset.
The government says that culling is necessary to prevent the spread of bovine TB to cattle, which it says costs taxpayers £100 million every year. Animal rights campaigners dispute the link between badgers and the spread of the disease. George Eustice, the farming minister, said: “We will not be able to eradicate this disease unless we tackle the reservoir of the disease in the badger population as well as cattle.”
Meurig Raymond, the National Farmers’ Union president, welcomed the announcement. Anne Brummer, chief executive of the Save Me Trust, said that the charity had been contacted by farmers who opposed the cull but were too afraid to speak out. “They would like to opt out but it is very hard for them to go against other farmers whose land they are surrounded by,” she said.
The cost of the cull to the taxpayer fell from £6.29 million in 2013 to £1.78 million last year. This was due to a fall in spending on monitoring the humane nature of the cull, including carrying out post-mortem examinations on badgers that had been shot.