Badger campaigners set up ‘no-cull zone’

Campaigners have set aside a large area of land as a “no-cull zone” in a bid to prevent a badger cull in part of Gloucestershire.

The Stroud 100, a local lobby group opposed to the culling of badgers, has “sealed off” more than 1,200 acres of land, dotted around the Stroud area.

More than 80 people and organisations, including some farmers and businesses, have signed up to the campaign to prevent a badger cull ever taking place in the Stroud area of the county.

The aim of the group is to gain 100 signatories in the next few weeks and petition the government.

Stroud 100 founder member Jeanne Berry, an animal welfare supporter, said: “The government acknowledges that the success rate of culling badgers to prevent bovine tuberculosis is not high. It’s going to take four years and they will have to cull every year.

“It is widely acknowledged that a badger cull will lead to a 16% reduction in the incidence of bovine TB at best – and you have to ask: is it (culling) really worth it?”

Instead of a cull, the group would like to see the money invested into research into an effective badger vaccination against bovine TB.

The government announced plans for two pilot badger culls, to be carried out over a six-week period later this year in west Somerset and west Gloucestershire.

The pilot culls, scheduled for the autumn, will aim to test whether the controlled shooting of badgers is humane, effective and safe.

There is no suggestion that Stroud has been earmarked as one of the two areas for the culls. But Mrs Berry said: “We’re just trying to get there before anyone gets to Stroud.”

Stroud 100 is also lobbying local councils and writing to the Church of England in an effort to gain support for their anti-cull stance.

Badgers are considered to be one of the main vectors for bovine TB, which costs the taxpayer up to £100m a year.

DEFRA has warned the disease will cost £1bn in England alone over the next decade unless more action is taken.

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