EMOTIONS ran high as rock star Brian May spoke at a Dorchester meeting against government plans to cull badgers.

It was standing room only at the Corn Exchange as the Queen guitarist pleaded with residents to help join the fight against the cull.

Under government attempts to stop the spread of bovine TB, Dorset could be used as a pilot culling area.

Somerset and Gloucestershire have been selected as pilot zones for the culling, which would see the badger population cut back in a bid to peg back bovine TB, which has cost the taxpayer £500 million in the last decade.

Local wildlife lovers applauded loudly as Dr May - who was held up in traffic - arrived in Dorchester and joined the other speakers on the stage.

Around 300 people packed out the Friday night meeting.

Dr May said: “This is an issue which is very close to all of our hearts.

“It looks as though they will lose one of the pilot zones in Gloucestershire or Somerset. If they do lose one, they will come to Dorset and cull.

“They don't tell anyone exactly where the zone is.

“We are talking about shooters with high powered rifles that can kill from a mile away.”

Dr May, who owns land near Briantspuddle, said he feels compelled to speak out about the issue.

“It's quite incredible to me they can get away with this but we're looking at a very strange kind of government here.

“I've tried to avoid being involved in politics all my life, I still do.

“I believe animals should not be part of politics.

“We could have been vaccinating our cows by now.

“We cannot because no-one took care of it over the past few years.

“We cannot afford to proceed with this cull.”

Vet Mark Jones acted as chairman at the meeting.

He said: “This carnage could be taking place in the fields and the woodlands around your homes.

“Let's be quite clear, if this goes ahead, many areas of West Gloucestershire, West Somerset and possibly Dorset will have no badgers left.”

Gavin Grant, chief executive of the RSPCA, spoke passionately against the cull.

He said: “Those of us who oppose the cull are not 'townie bunny huggers.' We are not sentimentalists who do not understand the trials and tribulations of the countryside.”

Mr Grant said despite badgers being culled in the Republic of Ireland, leading to them becoming extinct in four different counties, bovine TB is still present.

He added that badgers and cattle should be vaccinated to eradicate TB.

“We care as passionately for the wellbeing of the cattle as well as the badgers.”

David Salmon, 63, travelled from Broadstone to the meeting.

He said: “I think Brian May is fabulous and a fabulous musician He's a credit to his industry.”

Mr Salmon said he was pleased to see such a high level of support in Dorchester against the proposed cull.

“I'm against the badger cull and against blood sports. I believe that in general culling badgers will not help the farmer and not help the badger. I believe that better husbandry, animal management and more overall awareness of transportation and better general hygiene will help.”

A decision on the location of this summer's pilot culls is due soon from the government.


PAUL Gould, county chairman of the Dorset NFU, supports the badger cull.

He said bovine TB outbreaks left him out of pocket and stressed.

The North Dorset farmer suffered a £15,000 loss during the last outbreak of the disease among his cattle 18 months ago.

He said: “It's not about getting rid of every badger, it's about getting the population down to what it was before the Badger Act.

“The science is there and it's been proven that badgers do carry TB and they spread it very easily.

“We get compensation when animals are slaughtered, that's only 80 per cent of the market value of that animal.

“The restriction of trade when your cattle has TB hits you hard.

“No farmer wants to kill anything but we want to control this disease.”