In Depth

Badger cull: Brian May calls milk boycott as saboteurs prepare

Meanwhile, police chief warns badger culls will be risk to public safety because of presence of protesters

A COALITION led by the RSPCA and rock star Brian May have called on consumers to boycott milk from areas where badger cull trials are being planned. Meanwhile a police chief has said the presence of saboteurs in areas where badger shooting takes place will make the culls a risk to public safety.

The two trials in Gloucestershire and Somerset are not being carried out to ascertain whether killing badgers can control bovine TB; instead they are testing the effectiveness of shooting as a way to cull badgers. But opponents insist culling is not an effective way to control the spread of the disease and vaccination should be used instead.

Earlier this week the trial in Gloucestershire was given the official go ahead. In response, an e-petition, 'Stop the badger cull', was created, which will be considered for a debate in the House of Commons if it reaches 100,000 signatures. It currently has over 65,000.

Now Team Badger, a coalition of 18 animal welfare groups, is urging tourists to avoid areas where badgers are being "horrifically slaughtered" and to boycott milk from those farms involved, reports The Daily Telegraph.

Gavin Grant, the chief executive of the RSPCA, said: "Those who care will not want to visit areas or buy milk from farms soaked in badgers' blood"

He added that the boycott would force farmers and landowners to feel the "commercial consequences" of allowing the cull on their land.

Brian May, the Queen guitarist and environmentalist, said he "would certainly not drink milk that comes at a price of badgers being slaughtered," and urged others to do the same from the "minute the first badger is shot".

May does not intend to take part in any direct action, but others are already in Gloucestershire, marking out where they need to be when the shooting starts, with the aim of causing as much havoc as possible.

Groups like the Hunt Saboteurs Association and Stop the Cull plan to patrol the target areas, making noise to scare away the badgers and disrupting shooting areas set up for the cull.

One activist told The Guardian: "We plan to be here with loudhailers, bright lights, high-visibility jackets. They want to try to do the cull quietly. We aren't going to let them."

The groups are trying to set up temporary campsites in the cull zones and are asking sympathisers to open up spare rooms in their homes to protesters as more and more activists head to the area.

Already the tactics seem to be taking effect: The Guardian reports that superintendent Adrian Tudway, national co-ordinator for domestic extremism at the Association of Chief Police Officers, has warned the government that the cull poses a safety risk to the public.

Tudway told Defra (the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) that the cull has the "potential to place armed farm workers in the near vicinity of protesters and activists, typically during the night-time; we regard this as a scenario with clear potential for harm to public safety".

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