Brian May's Olympics badger badge sparks anger and praise

Brian May - badger badge

Did Queen guitarist use Olympics to make political statement about controversial badger cull?

BY Rachel Helyer-Donaldson LAST UPDATED AT 14:17 ON Mon 13 Aug 2012

DID BRIAN MAY make a political statement about a controversial badger cull while performing at the Olympics closing ceremony last night? The Queen guitarist's decision to wear shoulder patches depicting a badger and a fox has been praised by wildlife lovers while farmers and countryside rights activists have called it "appalling" and "disappointing".

The animal emblems could be seen as May and singer Jessie J performed their rendition of Queen's We Will Rock You in front of a global TV audience.

The legendary guitarist, who also has a PhD in astrophysics, has been vociferous in his opposition to the Government's controversial plan to conduct scientific trials aimed at fighting bovine tuberculosis. The trials will involve culling thousands of badgers. In July, May said it was "ludicrous" that a vaccine for cattle was not being used instead.

Last night his stage outfit drew a flurry of comments. While Danny Boyle's opening ceremony two weeks ago celebrated a green and pleasant land, denizens of the rural idyll seemed divided by May's badger badge. 

The Countryside Alliance wrote that it was "appalling to see Brian May making a political statement with his fox and badger badges" while field sports photographer Country Lady Amy called it "very disappointing".

Dairy farmer Pete Ledbury accused the guitarist of "sticking two fingers up to the people who make the British countryside what it is".

But Alice Bell, a science writer with 9,500 Twitter followers, praised May's actions and suggested the cull had been postponed until after the Olympics because police would otherwise have been unable to handle the expected protests. This, she said "makes Brian May's reference to it in closing ceremony more pointed".

The North Wildlife Trust, meanwhile, tweeted that May was "rocking out for wildlife, amazing!"

May has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Farmers were forced to slaughter 25,000 animals in 2010 alone to curb the rising number of tuberculosis infections. But many opponents argue that culling actually runs the risk of making bovine TB more widespread. A decade-long landmark trial found that badgers displaced by culls simply carry the disease elsewhere. It also discovered that, at best, the incidence of TB was reduced in the cull area by just 16 per cent after nine years.

A badger vaccination programme is to replace culling in Wales following a successful legal challenge there. But the Badger Trust's high court bid to stop the cull in England failed last month, meaning culls could begin as early as September. · 

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In what way can Dr May's outfit be designated 'political'? He is merely expressing his support for badgers and, in light of the latest scientific research, he is right to question the decision to cull our native badgers.

But that is just an opinion.

More fun if JJ had displayed her support for beavers!

Judging by that remark you can keep you opinions to yourself. I was going to do a quick impression of a moron but you seem to have beaten me to it. Well done sir.

I see from your facebook page your opinion is of no value.

As a farmer who had to send 30 cows and calves inside them to slaughter last year, i am a supporter of the badger cull as i cant bare to see that again. Brian should stick to his music rather than something he doesnt know about.

What a spineless c*nt! YOU are the one sending these cattles to the slaughter because if they weren't being kept for you to torture them they wouldn't have been in that situation. You exploit animals for money and then blame the wildlife? Hypocritical piece of so and so....

Brian does know all about it though as, like others, he has read the scientific evidence. Slaughtering badgers, (90% of which are likely to be healthy if the results in the 9 year random badger culling trials ended in 2009 are replicated) will not stop losses of cattle. The main route of bTB spread is through cattle to cattle infection - so even if you wipe out all of the badgers in the UK you'll still be sending your cattle to slaughter. Then you'll want to wipe out foxes, deer, and all other wildlife that are susceptible to a disease which started in cattle.

PS - I bet Brian May knows how to use the right "bear" in context too.

Britain should be proud to have such an Icon as Brian, his talent, intelligence and compassion is a rare combination in this day and age.

Quite right, Wolfie. In any case Dr May was just showing respect for the theme of the Olympics - the rural wildlife. There was no political caption at all.

I was going to say something similar.. don't you end up slaughtering the animals anyway??? Is the issue losing profit and not caring for the animals?

Kudos and love to Brian May for standing up to the hunting fraternity whose answer to every problem is to always to kill and cull. Maybe, for the sake of the nation's health, the cull should start with the idiots who ignore the science so that the hunt can go on, regardless of what works.

Brian May loves all creatures great and small and nobody is a more cerebral, articulate, compelling and compassionate advocate for our fellow creatures than Brian May.

That was no political statement by Brian May it was a supporting gesture w.r.t. issue of scientific fact versus anecdotal misinformation. Though I have to say, it made my DAY DR MAY when you have so beautifully riled animal abusers and bloodsports enthusiasts by your public display of compassion to the WORLD ... Hat tip Sir!

Brilliant, Brian. Thank you for standing up for the badgers and foxes.

I wish these liberal do gooders would just shut up whining.

Good on your Brian May, Everyone’s whose decent in this
country is behind you. Anyone who disagrees is must be very sick in the head.
Countryside alliance, sociopathathic, animal torturers more like. Anyone who
can form an alliance that’s sole aim is to torture and kill wildlife needs seriously
looking at and stopping. What else do these sickos get up to? What next the
paedo alliance, similar trait all sociopaths. And generate the same disgust and
hatred amongst the decent members of the public. Brian May is a hero, we need
more like him and we certainly need the likes of those who want badger cull and
the countryside alliance investigating thoroughly. Id start with how they treat
their kids, who in their right mind would take a young child on a hunt where an
animal and its cubs will be torn apart screaming. Hunt members and the
Countryside Alliance seem to think tjis is normal, not only that they smear the
blood of the animal that’s been torn apart and in some cases its cubs ripped
out of its stomach over the kids face. Sick isn’t the word.

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