In Depth

Badger cull: Brian May says he was banned from Springwatch

Queen guitarist and badger campaigner says he wasn't allowed to mention cull on ITV or BBC

brian-may-badger-cull.jpg

A CONTROVERSIAL cull of badgers will begin this weekend, with farmers in parts of west Gloucestershire and west Somerset free to shoot the animals in an effort to stop the spread of bovine TB. As many as 5,000 badgers could be killed during a six-week period starting on 1 June. But protestors have vowed to try to disrupt the cull, which they say is inhumane and will not have the desired effect of reducing the incidence of TB in cattle. Protestors, led by Queen guitarist Brian May and TV presenter Bill Oddie, are set to march through London tomorrow in opposition to the move.

However, May, writing on his blog, has accused the media of denying him a platform to put forward his objections to the cull. The rocker appeared on ITV’s Loose Women earlier this week but revealed: "It was made very clear to me that I could not get into anything controversial." He said he was only able to "interject" a comment about the cull at the end of his interview. He added that attempts to appear on the BBC's Springwatch - once hosted by Oddie - to make his point had fallen flat. "There have been discussions about me appearing on Springwatch, but I have been told I would not be allowed to mention badgers or buzzards [whose nests are being legally destroyed]," he revealed. "This situation is intolerable in a so-called democracy." May did, however, appear on BBC Radio 5 on Friday morning where he dismissed the government's scientific justification of the cull as "absolute rot and rubbish". His argument has been backed by The Independent. It described the cull as a "triumph of political expediency over scientific evidence". The pilot culls in the West Country are designed to see if shooting free-running badgers is a viable and humane way to kill enough of the animals, explains The Guardian. In previous culls, it was attempted to trap the badgers first. The Guardian says the "humaneness" of the cull will be measured by the noises made by shot badgers "and comparisons with harpooned whales". That claim prompted more outrage among opponents of any cull. Taking the farmers’ side, the Daily Telegraph said: "It is widely accepted that badgers spread TB to cattle, and officials estimate around half of herd infections come from badgers. "Farmers say the disease is devastating their businesses and lives and that everything possible must be done to tackle it."

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