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Sussex-wide badger cull will go ahead after Olympics
Thousands of badgers are to be shot after the Sussex-based Badger Trust lost its High Court appeal to block the cull.
Expert marksmen will pick off the tuberculosis- carrying animals one-by-one after the government successfully argued that they posed a significant danger to cattle.
However, the cull will not start until after the Olympics as police fear they will be too stretched to deal with animal rights protestors.
The Badger Trust believes the problem could be treated with vaccinations and accused the livestock industry of “grievously distorting” the risks of badger to cattle infection.
However, the Government said that the numbers were so high that a cull was the only way forward.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said that in 2010/11, nearly 25,000 cattle were slaughtered in England alone at a cost to the taxpayer of £91 million, and the disease is having a devastating impact on livestock farmers.
Nobody wants to see all the badgers wiped out but they have to be controlledRichard Benje, dairy farmer
Sue Baumgardt, a prominent animal rights activist from Hove, said: “It’s mindless murder. The Government has blood on its hands.
“There’s no concrete evidence to suggest that killing badgers will stop cows getting TB. "The truth of it is that humans used to contract TB when they were stressed and living in squalor.
“Cows these days are being bred to milk more than ever, are pregnant every year and have their babies taken away from them just days after they’re born.
“If they go ahead with the culls, we will be out in the fields opposing them. We’re not going to stand by and let this happen.”
Mary Passmore, 92, at Coombes Farm, near Lancing since 1946, said: “I think it is a positive move for the farming community. People must understand that no farmer wants to get rid of all the badgers but we have to control them.
"The disease spreads very quickly between cows and the result can be devastating.”
Richard Benje, 47, who runs the Mill Bank Organic Cattle Farm in Hooe near Battle, said: “If cattle contract the disease then farmers are not allowed to trade until they are told it is safe to do so. It completely shuts down the farm.”
He added: “Nobody wants to see all the badgers wiped out but they have to be controlled.”
Sharpshooters from the British Association of Shooting, ex-servicemen and maybe even serving infantry will be drafted in to dispose of up to 40,000 animals over four years.
A trial to see if the killing method is successful will be carried out in Somerset and Gloucestershire and the cull rolled out across the country next year.
The Badger Trust plans to appeal against the decision and says it is still hopeful of a favourable outcome.
Trust chairman David Williams said: “We will now study the judgment closely and consider the next steps in our campaign to protect the badgers from a pointless cull.”