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Brian May to visit badger cull zone
Queen guitarist Brian May is to visit the badger cull zone in Gloucestershire, it has been announced.
May, a leading opponent of the cull, will be in the Tewkesbury area to meet residents and discuss their views on the pilot taking place on their doorstep.
May, who is a member of the Team Badger campaign, will also join a peaceful night walk being staged by anti-cull activists.
An online petition that May started against the pilots has become the most signed on the official Government website, with nearly 300,000 people having added their name.
"It remains a clear indication of the depth and continued growth of public outrage over Environment Secretary of State Owen Paterson's plan to kill thousands of badgers in the UK," May said.
"It's also now the most unpopular thing this Government has ever done, if their own petition website is any measure."
The NFU confirmed that the west Somerset cull began last week and opponents believe the shooting in west Gloucestershire have begun. The controversial pilots aim to tackle tuberculosis in cattle by killing around 5,000 badgers over a six-week period.
The culls aim to assess if culling can be done effectively, safely and humanely, with plans to roll out the scheme more widely in areas that are hotspots for TB in cattle.
Farmers and the Government insist culling of badgers, which can spread TB to cattle, is needed to stop spiralling rates of the disease in herds.
But opponents say culling the protected animal will have only a small effect on infection rates in cattle and will lead to badgers suffering. They want the emphasis to be on vaccines and tighter on-farm and cattle movement measures.