More than 1,000 demonstrators wearing badger masks and costumes marched through Westminster this weekend to protest against the Government’s planned badger culling trials.

More than 1,000 demonstrators wearing badger masks and costumes marched through Westminster this weekend to protest against planned badger culls, introduced as part of the Government’s bovine TB eradication strategy in England.

Among the demonstrators who descended upon London to oppose the start of culling trials in west Gloucestershire and west Somerset were Queen guitarist Brian May and Springwatch presenter Bill Oddie.

Protesters clad in black and white chanted “shame on Defra” and “Stop the cull” as they marched through the streets of the capital to protest a cull they claim has no basis in science.

Speaking publicly at the Team Badger march, the campaign’s figurehead Brian May told gathered protesters: “We have a Government in bed with an NFU leadership similarly welded to the idea of the massacre of thousands of mostly healthy animals, seemingly unable to hear the words of the scientific community that it will not work, deaf to the cries of hundreds of thousands of Brits who have signed the petition, and in contempt of the will of Parliament – which, at the end of a six-hour debate last November, voted overwhelmingly against the cull.”

He continued: “This war against the badger killers is not over – it’s hardly begun, because this is a fight for the very lives of 100,000 (at least) innocent animals. But even more than that, it’s a fight against the old fashioned bloody-minded ignorant attitude that human beings, money and political power are all that matter. It’s a fight for the rights of the other creatures on this planet, it’s a fight for their very right to live in these islands.

“But we will never give up. We will fight this cull as long as it takes to place it where it belongs – in the history of barbaric acts.”

BVA president Peter Jones.However, ahead of the weekend’s march the British Veterinary Association (BVA) reiterated its support for the planned cull pilots and appealed to those who oppose them, asking them to allow the necessary scientific work to take place unhindered in the two pilot cull areas.

Addressing the alleged lack of scientific proof that a cull could work, the BVA pointed to the evidence base behind the policy, which shows that bovine TB in cattle can be reduced by around 16% in areas where a targeted, humane badger cull has taken place.

BVA president Peter Jones said: “We have not taken the decision to support the pilot badger culls lightly; we have considered all of the scientific evidence, which supports the management of bovine TB in badgers in order to reduce the incidence of the disease in cattle.
“We accept that there is a gap in our knowledge, which is whether controlled shooting can deliver a badger cull humanely and safely, and to the same degree of effectiveness as cage trapping and shooting. That is what the pilots are designed to address and why it is important that they are allowed to go ahead unhindered.
“We understand that this is a highly emotional issue but we must be able to gather the evidence to enable future policy decisions to be based on science.”

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