Badger cull protesters to march in Taunton today

SOUTH West protesters opposing the badger cull will take march in Taunton today,

led by the Somerset Wildlife Trust.

The Trust, which manages 1,700 hectares of Somerset's countryside and works closely with the farming community, will be leading the march from Vivary Park at 1 pm.

Simon Nash, the Trust's Chief Executive, said: "Somerset Wildlife Trust is firmly opposed to the badger cull and no Wildlife Trust will allow culling on its land. As West Somerset approaches a third year of culling and the Government considers extending this unnecessary programme to other areas, the need for the voices of our members to be heard has never been stronger."

During the past two years trial badger culls have been taking place across Somerset and Gloucestershire in a bid to prevent the spread of Bovine TB, an infectious disease of cattle. In 2013 more than 26,000 cattle were killed in England because of the disease.

The four year pilot cull aims to kill 70% of the badger population in Somerset to test how effective and humane a cull can be. With farmers across the county concerned for their livestock, the cull has been backed by local MPs and DEFRA (Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs).

But the Somerset Wildlife Trust is encouraging its 18,000 members and staff and volunteers to join in with the protest this Saturday. The charity manages 72 nature reserves and has been protecting vulnerable wildlife and preserving wild places for over 50 years.

Nash added: "We are very conscious of the hardship that bTB causes and the need to find an effective, long-term, sustainable solution, but culling badgers is not the answer.

"Research shows that culling doesn't significantly reduce outbreaks of the disease in cattle and can even make the situation worse, due to the perturbation effect where the disease is spread by badgers moving between setts post-cull.

"Cattle-to-cattle transmission represents the most important route of disease spread, so the Government's strategy to eradicate bTB should be focused on a vaccination programme – for cattle and badgers – and biosecurity measures. We are proud to stand up and be counted as part of a broad coalition of organisations and individuals opposing the cull through peaceful protest."

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