100,000 sign badger cull e-petition
More than 100,000 people have signed a petition against a cull of badgers to tackle tuberculosis in cattle, in a bid to prompt a parliamentary debate on the subject.
The e-petition was launched by Queen guitarist and campaigner Brian May last week as part of the "Team Badger" campaign, after the first licence to kill the protected wild animal was issued for a pilot cull in Gloucestershire.
Reaching the 100,000 signatures milestone means the issue could be debated in Parliament, although this is not automatic.
Campaigners claim a cull will not have a significant effect in reducing the disease in livestock, and want the focus to be shifted to vaccination. Cull supporters say the move is necessary to tackle TB in cattle which is costing farmers and the taxpayer millions of pounds a year.
Farmers will be licensed to shoot up to 70% of the badgers in a 300 square kilometre area in Gloucestershire.
A second licence for a pilot cull in Somerset is still being considered.
Agriculture Minister David Heath said: "This is such an important issue for both the farming industry and wildlife campaigners that I'm not surprised there's a lot of demand for another parliamentary debate.
"It's an opportunity to put right a lot of the misleading information I've seen recently from opponents of the cull.
"They say culling will make the situation worse, and that vaccination is a viable alternative. The science says they're wrong on both counts."