Badger cull is a disgrace, says Brian May
QUEEN guitarist Brian May led a rally on College Green calling for a planned badger cull to be stopped.
The protest took place as the Court of Appeal decided that two pilot culls should go ahead in Gloucestershire and Somerset.
Wildlife groups say up to 130,000 badgers could be killed in an attempt to help eradicate bovine tuberculosis, which last year led to the slaughter of more than 26,000 cattle at a cost of £91 million to the economy.
The 65-year-old rock star told the Post that the planned cull was inhumane and said the government had not given the alternative, a vaccination programme, a chance.
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He said: "For a wonderful wild mammal to be slaughtered in this way is a disgrace.
"A cull does not address the problem and it will not make the problem go away. It is a temporary solution and one that doesn't address the real issues of the disease affecting cattle.
"Defra [the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] are misleading us with false promises that the disease can be tackled like this. We need a long-term plan instead, with a commitment to vaccination not cold-blooded killing."
He said he was not daunted by the failure of yesterday's court action by the Badger Trust as the judges were looking at "technicalities" in government procedure and not the scientific evidence or ethical considerations.
Mr May said that part of the problem for vaccination lies with restraints from the EU.
He said: "I would be willing to go to Europe and fight for this on Britain's behalf for our right to vaccinate."
Around 200 people had gathered on College Green to join last night's protest to launch a national Stop the Cull campaign.
Many came in costume for a best dressed badger competition held afterwards.
The National Farmer's Union supports the cull, which now looks set to go ahead.
NFU South West acting regional director Andrew Butler said: "We must remember that no other country in the world has tackled TB successfully without also controlling TB in its wildlife reservoir. This is why the NFU fully supports the two badger control pilot areas as part of the Government's science-led policy of culling badgers in areas where TB is persistent and high.
"This policy is desperately needed to tackle what is a terrible and damaging disease that affects cattle and badgers and brings misery to the lives of many hard-working farming families.
"Our goal is for a healthy countryside and that needs healthy badgers and healthy cattle."