TV presenter says culls are a 'shameful slaughter'
Celebrity protesters against the two pilot badger culls in the South West have spoken out against the culling.
BBC presenter Chris Packham has described the pilot culls as "shameful slaughter" and labelled their organisers "brutalist thugs, liars and frauds".
And veteran animal rights activist Dr Jane Goodall has issued a video calling for the shooting to stop.
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Farmers have complained to the BBC about social network tweets by Mr Packham, who presents the Springwatch and Autumnwatch programmes.
But the BBC has said that Mr Packham – and his co-presenter Simon King, who also tweeted his disapproval – were speaking as private individuals and had not broken the BBC code of rules of impartiality over Government policy.
Mr Packham, a vice-president of the RSPCA, tweeted: "It is both sad and shameful that when night falls and the setts of southern England stir, their gentlefolk will be needlessly slaughtered.
"That, in spite of science and the public will, the wrath of ignorance will further bloody and bleed our countryside of its riches of life.
"That brutish thugs, liars and frauds will destroy our wildlife and dishonour our nation's reputation as conservationists and animal lovers."
Mr King tweeted: "How dare we think we have the right to slaughter such a native animal."
Meanwhile, a video plea for the Government to abandon the pilot badger culls in West Somerset and Gloucestershire by Dr Goodall has gone on-line.
Dr Goodall recorded the message while on conservation work in Alaska, in a show of solidarity with the efforts of Humane Society International and its partner organisations within the Team Badger coalition.
In her two-minute message, Dr Goodall speaks straight to the camera, stating that she is "saddened that the British Government has chosen to ignore the evidence of veterinarians and other qualified scientists in the mass culling of badgers", and that "the proposed killing will result in massive suffering", with many badgers knowing "terror and great pain".
She urges the Government to reconsider its plan in favour of a "more compassionate, but also far more rational" alternative.
Dr Goodall, who is 79 and a Dame of the British Empire, was the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and a UN "Messenger of Peace". She became known through her work in Africa with vervet monkeys and chimpanzees and her television documentaries on the welfare of wild animals which she made in the 1960s.
She says the free shooting of badgers has been condemned by eminent scientists, veterinarians, conservationists, wildlife and disease experts, as well as many farmers.
They agree that killing badgers is highly ineffective as a means of controlling bovine TB, she says. There were also considerable welfare concerns as well as concerns about perturbation – where TB infected badgers flee the shooting and spread the disease to previously uninfected areas.
Dr Goodall's message is tied in closely with a statement from the Zoological Society of London against the use of badger culling in the control of bovine TB in cattle.