Brian May visits Somerset badger cull zone
Queen guitarist and anti-cull activist Brian May visited West Somerset as the badger cull in the area entered its final days.
It was the second visit of the rock legend and high-profile opponent to one of the two pilot cull areas, following his trip to Gloucestershire last month.
May, who is a member of the Team Badger campaign, spent the day yesterday speaking to protesters, who have been keeping a vigil since the culls began at the end of August.
Last night, he planned to join activists on the regular "wounded badger patrol".
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Protesters at Camp Badger – fields provided by a sympathetic landowner in Ash Priors, near Bishops Lydeard – are confident their direct action has helped to disrupt a pilot scheme which they claim was doomed to fail.
Jay Tiernan, spokesman for the group hoping to sabotage the cull in Somerset, told the WMN he believed the cull had been "a massive failure".
Mr Tiernan said a lack of worms meant the animals were not gathered at the setts but foraging alone.
"I think they will have killed at best 20% of the badgers and it may be as low as 12%, he added.
"The methodology is flawed, partly because of the weather but also because of the sheer number they had to kill.
"It was obvious from the start they would not be able to meet the numbers, it was only a matter of by what percentage they would fail."
Some 5,000 badgers are intended to be shot during the pilots in a bid to prove their effectiveness in tackling the spread of tuberculosis in cattle.
Last week, Prime Minister David Cameron promised to press on with the cull, despite fears the Somerset pilot risked failing because not enough badgers had been shot.
An online petition that May started against the pilot cull became the most signed on the official Government website, with more than 300,000 signatures.
And it emerged earlier this week that Avon and Somerset Police were investigating claims that a marksman had been allegedly threatened with a weapon on September 14, something the protesters claim is a "fabrication".
Anti-cull campaigners have criticised the Government for denying a shot badger was part of the cull, when a police inquiry concluded otherwise. The pilots aim to assess if culling can be done effectively, safely and humanely, with plans to roll out the scheme more widely in areas that are hotspots for TB in cattle.
Farmers and the Government insist culling of badgers, which can spread TB to cattle, is needed to stop spiralling rates of the disease in herds.
But opponents say culling the animals will have only a small effect on infection rates and will lead to badgers suffering, instead calling for the emphasis to be on vaccines and tighter cattle movement measures.
A protester who gave her name as Sally, from Cornwall, said the protests had been peaceful, mostly involving "torches in your face at nights, whistles and cars tailgating", but absolutely no weapons.