Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/23/badger_cull/

Brian May stands up for Welsh badgers

Cull plan 'inhuman vandalism', declares Queen strummer

By Lester Haines

Posted in Bootnotes, 23rd March 2011 10:17 GMT

Queen guitarist Brian May has mobilised against a proposed cull of badgers in Wales, something he describes as an "inhuman act of vandalism".

The Welsh assembly will today debate a "legislative order that would allow a cull in north Pembrokeshire, and parts of Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire", the BBC explains.

Rural affairs Minister Elin Jones decided to go ahead with the cull on the basis that "substantial scientific evidence" indicated it would curb the spread of bovine tuberculosis.

May supports those who say it would prove ineffective. In an open letter to the assembly members, he wrote: "Everybody, and I mean everybody, who has studied the evidence, knows that (a cull) cannot work, and that the only true way to eliminate this disease is through better screening and movement controls in cattle farming."

He added: "The slaughter of badgers cannot prove anything - all it will do is appease the farmers in the short term, who understandably, perhaps, 'want to see something done'."

One of the AMs who will be voting against the order is Peter Black, Liberal Democrat member for South Wales West, who is equally sceptical that the cull will work.

Black told the BBC: "Myself and a number of AMs have seen evidence to suggest culling will actually increase the instances of TB inside the culling area and will have very little effect in the long term in reducing TB.

"We are all sympathetic with the farmers, we know this has to be tackled, but we believe a far more humane and rational way to do this, and cheaper as it happens, is to use vaccinations in cattle and badgers as a method in particular as a way of controlling TB in the long-term."

Stephen James, deputy president of the NFU Cymru, countered that there was a "significant reservoir" of TB in badgers within the proposed cull zone, and that while vaccination "prevents disease, it does not cure it".

May, who described himself in his letter as "a concerned member of the British public, whose primary profession happens to be playing rock music", will attend today's debate to see how successful his lobbying has been. The BBC has more here. ®