Legendary Queen guitarist Brian May has vowed not to give up the fight to stop of cull of badgers in the West Country, despite the failure of a legal appeal against the plan.
At a rally at College Green yesterday, May said he was not surprised at the failure that The Badger Trust had lost its Court of Appeal challenge to government proposals to kill thousands of wild badgers in England.
It clears the way for the start of culls in parts of Gloucestershire and West Somerset within weeks.
More than 100 people came to the green to hear the rock star speak out against the cull, designed to combat TB in cattle but which campaigners say will lead to an ineffective slaughter of wildlife.
“It looks bad but we are not going to give up,” May said on hearing about yesterday’s appeal loss.
“This is a tragedy. You can kill all the badgers there are but you won’t stop Bovine TB. So I urge you all to support the Team Badger campaign and work to stop this tragedy from happening.
“Remember, we failed on a legal challenge to plans for a cull in Wales too, but the public reaction there led to a change and now vaccination is taking place.
“Animals have as much right to exist as we do. We have slowly realised that it’s not cool to shoot lions and tigers, and we need to realise the same when it comes to badgers as well.”
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).
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 government, with the support of the National Farmers Union, argues that bovine TB is taking a terrible toll on farmers and rural communities, and action is needed now.
A Defra spokesperson said: “Nobody wants to cull badgers. But no country in the world where wildlife carries TB has eradicated the disease in cattle without tackling it in wildlife too.”
But speaking at the rally, the chief executive of the RSPCA Gavin Grant told the crowd the cull was the result of a “grubby deal” done to save money.
“I say this to the NFU, you are doing your members no favours by supporting this cull, because you know and we know that it simply will not work,” he said.
“A Defra press officer let the cat out of the bag recently, saying it was cheaper to kill badgers than to vaccinate. This is their dirty little secret.”
For more information about the campaign to stop the badger cull, visit www.stopthecull.com