Badger cull protesters plan peaceful mass march
Hundreds of people are expected at a march in Somerset at the weekend in a show of strength against the badger cull.
Thirteen days after the cull started in West Somerset, groups opposed to the pilot scheme – including Somerset Badger Patrol and the League Against Cruel Sports – have called a peaceful protest in Taunton on Saturday.
It follows a visit by Joe Duckworth, chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, to the camp site in Somerset where badger cull protesters are living.
“Let us be absolutely clear. The Government’s policy goes against everything it has been put in place to do,” Mr Duckworth, who also went out on patrol with campaigners last night, said.
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“Out of touch with public opinion and flying in the face of scientific evidence, it is shocking that the Government can even try to justify this senseless slaughter of badgers when it will do little to achieve its aim in halting the spread of bovine TB.”
Opponents of the cull have already coordinated their efforts – under the banner of Team Badger – with Queen guitarist Brian May, leader of Save Me, visiting the other cull area in Gloucestershire.
It came as police confirmed that four people had been arrested inside the Gloucestershire badger cull zone on Friday afternoon.
They were held on suspicion of aggravated trespass after police responded to reports of horns being blown and individuals straying from a public footpath.
Gloucestershire Police said the four refused to give the arresting officer their details after they were stopped in the Forthampton area of the county at around 2am on Friday.
A short time later they supplied the information and were released, police confirmed.
An online petition that May started against the pilot culls has become the most signed on the official Government website, with nearly 300,000 people having added their name.
“It remains a clear indication of the depth and continued growth of public outrage over Environment Secretary of State Owen Paterson’s plan to kill thousands of badgers in the UK,” May said.
“It’s also now the most unpopular thing this Government has ever done, if their own petition website is any measure.”
The NFU confirmed that the West Somerset cull began on August 26 and opponents believe the shooting in Gloucestershire started on Tuesday night. The controversial pilots aim to tackle tuberculosis in cattle, which has ravaged herds in Devon and Cornwall, by killing around 5,000 badgers over a six-week period.
The culls aim to assess if culling can be done effectively, safely and humanely, with plans to roll out the scheme more widely in areas that are hotspots for TB in cattle.
Farmers and the Government insist culling of badgers, which can spread TB to cattle, is needed to stop spiralling rates of the disease in herds.
But opponents say culling the animals will have only a small effect on infection rates and will lead to badgers suffering. They want the emphasis to be on vaccines and tighter cattle movement measures.