Queen guitarist Brian May will be in Bristol next week as part of a rally against government plans to introduce a cull of badgers.
The rally marks the launch of a national campaign called ‘Stop the Cull’ – led by animal welfare charities opposed to the cull, including the RSPCA, League Against Cruel Sports, Save Me and Humane Society International (UK).
Campaigners will wear badger costumes at the free event. The charities are urging local people to come along and demonstrate their opposition to the cull.
The pilot culls are designed to reduce tuberculosis in cattle. Farmers and the government say the disease, which can be spread by badgers as well as among cattle, has become a huge cost to the industry. In 2010-11, nearly 25,000 cattle were slaughtered in England at a cost of £91m in government compensation.
But the charities say scientific studies have shown that culling would be of little help in reducing the disease and even suggest that it could make things worse in some areas.
Research undertaken by the Independent Scientific Group that took nearly a decade, cost approximately £50million and the lives of 11,000 badgers concluded “badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain”, they say.
The Stop the Cull campaign is pushing for the government to rethink their policy and implement a vaccination programme, along with increased levels of testing, improved farm biosecurity and stricter controls on the movement of cattle rather than culling 70% of the badger population, the vast majority of which are disease free.
Gavin Grant, chief executive of the RSPCA said: “The RSPCA and many other organisations oppose the cull of badgers for both scientific and animal welfare reasons. The campaign is rapidly gaining public support and over 100,000 objections to the cull have been recorded to date. The Government should look at the science, the results achieved in Wales and change their policy to one of vaccination – let’s cure and not kill.”
Meanwhile, their campaign has drawn cross-party support from Bristol, including leading Conservatives. Bristol24-7 reported in March that the Conservative Party spokesman in Bristol West had urged the coalition government to scrap its controversial plans.
Graham Godwin-Pearson’s statement came after Conservative think-tank the Bow Group unveiled a major paper saying the culls were likely to be more costly and less practical to conduct than ministers believe.
Mr Godwin-Pearson, the principle author and Tory spokesman in the Bristol West constituency, added the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) focus should be on vaccination instead.
The rally on Tuesday will take place at College Green from 4.30-7pm.