Anti-badger cull group to hold march in Shrewsbury
Anti-badger cull campaigners are to hold a march in Shrewsbury early next year, it has been announced.
The protest will take place on February 8, starting out from The Square in Shrewsbury at 1pm.
Marchers will be addressed by a series of speakers, including wildlife campaigner Drew Pratten, Jim Ashley from the Shropshire Badger Group and Dominic Dyer from Care for the Wild.
Earlier this year, Shropshire Badger Group wrote an open letter to county farmers urging them not to support the cull if it is brought to Shropshire.
"We urge you to seriously consider both the costs and implications of supporting such a scheme," the organisation said.
"The present culling has generated a huge amount of ill feeling and disruption within the rural communities, not only as a result of the protests but there are farmers both inside and around the culling areas who are strongly opposed to it; the rural communities are drawn into the situation willingly or not, and many thousands of people throughout the country dislike what is happening.
"The eventual solution has to be vaccination of both cattle and badgers; it's a proven method of dealing with human diseases such as smallpox and polio, and more recently to control measles, and the BCG vaccine has already been very successful against the human form of TB."
A pilot cull of badgers in Gloucestershire earlier this year failed to meet the 70 per cent target set by the government.
The cull was extended by five weeks and three days, but only 40 per cent of the area's badgers were killed.
A similar cull pilot in Somerset also failed to meet its target even after a three-week extension.
In a statement to Parliament earlier this month, Environment Secretary and North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson said the results of the two pilots will now be considered before the programme is rolled out across the country.
He also criticised "a small minority who resorted to widespread criminality in their determination to stop this disease control policy".
Mr Paterson added: "It is unacceptable that in the 10 years to 31 December 2012, more than 305,000 cattle were compulsorily slaughtered as reactors or direct contacts in Great Britain.
"Moreover, since January 1 to August, a further 22,512 otherwise healthy cattle have been slaughtered solely because of bovine TB.
"Controlling the disease in wildlife is and will remain a key part of our TB Strategy – no country has successfully dealt with TB without tackling the disease in both wildlife and cattle.
"This Government is resolved to do this. Achieving this aim will require long-term solutions and considerable national resolve."
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