VIDEO: 'Badger Army' stages march to demand end of cull
A "Badger Army" was mobilised in Bristol on Saturday as protesters marched through the city to oppose the Government plans to roll out a cull of the protected creatures to more areas.
Opponents of the Coalition plans, part of its aim to eradicate bovine TB over 25 years, were buoyed by the decision last week to abandon the second, extended pilot scheme in Gloucestershire after shooters failed to kill the required number of animals.
The West Somerset cull has already finished, also failing to meet the set target, but plans to continue the policy in other areas have not been scrapped by Defra.
Around 300 people – some dressed as badgers and others waving placards – congregated for the march and rally on College Green.
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Placards emblazoned with "Save our Badgers – Kill the Cull" and "Respect Existence or Expect Resistance" swayed in the November sunshine as speakers took to the stand with a series of powerful anti-cull speeches ahead of the march.
The protest, which had been organised by Somerset Badger Patrol and Horsham-based wildlife Care for the Wild, attracted campaigners from across the UK, including TV naturalist Bill Oddie. Joining the demonstration was Pauline Kidner, from Secret World animal rescue, in West Hunstpill, Somerset, which has cared for around 5,000 injured badgers at her wildlife centre since it opened in 1989.
Mrs Kidner said: "I find it incredible that considering the whole cull has been a farce that the Government is still saying it has been successful.
"The science is there to tell us that culling does not work.
"Thousands of badgers have been killed needlessly."
As campaigners chanted "cull the Tories" and "stop the cull", campaigner, Dominic Dyer, from Care of the Wild, warned: "This is the Badger Army.
"We are coming together because we are angry. This is the biggest wildlife movement in Europe and we are getting more powerful by the day.
"There are thousands of people who will make the stand against the cull in a way which the Government never expected.
"A lot of badger blood has been spilt to get votes.
"What the Government is doing is not reducing bovine TB.
"This is not good enough and not how we protect wildlife in this country.
"I have worked in the farming industry all my life and this is the worst agricultural policy I have seen in 30 years.
"I'm sympathetic to farmers but culling badgers simply won't work.
"Ordinary people from around the country want to protest against this barbaric cull.
"We're slaughtering our wildlife for no justifiable reason.
"The Government is telling people that all badgers are sick, which simply isn't true and they are hiding the true cause of the rise in bTB, which is poor farming practices.
"The more people that hear the truth, the more will oppose the cull and hopefully the Government will see sense and stop it."
Both culls ran for an initial period of six weeks, but were extended for a further several weeks in a bid to cull more badgers. The schemes which were extended and aimed to kill over 5,000 badgers in Somerset and Gloucestershire, were described as "unreasonable, irrational and cruel" by Mr Oddie during a recent visit to the cull zone.
Mr Oddie said: "I cannot remember anything like the amount of outrage which the badger cull has caused in the last year.
"The people against the cull are not against farmers or cows.
"There is nothing we would like better than to see a solution that means that farm animals are healthy.
"There is no science to prove culling is the right way to deal with the problem.
"No one wants to see an animal treated like this."