ANIMAL protection campaigners in Worcester protested against Government plans to continue the culling of badgers.

About 50 campaigners, some dressed as badgers, protested in Worcester against the cull, due to restart in Gloucestershire and Somerset within the next few weeks.

The protest, organised by Worcestershire Vegans & Veggies, took place outside the Government buildings in Whittington Road, Spetchley, which houses regional offices of Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), the government body that organises the cull, and Natural England, the agency that issues licences for the killing of badgers.

The protesters held banners and placards, with many of them dressed as badgers or wearing badger masks.

Worcestershire Vegans & Veggies' Communications Officer Ronald Lee said: "We wanted to send a clear message to the government and to the agencies involved in the badger cull that they should scrap their plans to continue this slaughter.

"About 1500 badgers were shot in Gloucestershire and Somerset last year and it has been revealed that a large number of them were not killed immediately and underwent considerable suffering.

"Now, despite the opposition of the vast majority of the British public, the government want to continue with this cruel and insane killing.

"The reason they give for the badger cull is to prevent the spread of TB in cattle, but there is a very large amount of evidence that it will not be effective in doing this and could well make the problem worse.

"What really lies behind it is the desire to kill wildlife of the National Farmers Union and other powerful influences within the countryside, whom the government wish to placate because they want their votes.

"There is huge public opposition to the slaughter of badgers, which was evidenced by the dozens of hoots of support we received from passing motorists.

"Not only is the badger cull massively unpopular with the vast majority of the public, but it is also not being done out of any love of cows. This is because fewer than 40,000 dairy cows are killed annually in the UK because of bovine TB, which is less than 10 per cent of the 450,000 that are put to death each year, with more than 100,000 being killed due to infertility, 120,000 because of mastitis and lameness and the remaining 200,000 because they have become too old to be efficient milk producers."

A Defra spokesperson said: “Our beef and dairy industries are vital to our economy and British consumers. Bovine TB presents a major threat.

“That is why we are tackling the disease in both cattle and wildlife – an approach that has already been effective in reducing Bovine TB in Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.”