An e-petition opposing the planned badger cull programme which was signed and promoted by various organisations, has broken the record for the largest number of signatories ever to sign a government petition.
Team Badger is a coalition of organisations that have teamed up to fight the planned cull of badgers, with Queen Guitarist Brian May, fronting their campaign.
A fresh commitment was made by Prime Minister David Cameron to eradicate bovine tuberculosis (bTB) at the North Devon Show.
Speaking at the show, Cameron confirmed that badger culls will go ahead and that his Government has the 'political courage' to support the countryside in combating the disease.
A total of 263,000 people have signed the e-petition to pledge their support against the badger cull policy the Government have put forward to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) into cattle. Individuals who support alternative methods instead of culling badgers include academics, public figures, naturalists, celebrities and many thousands of the general public.
But new rules to stop the spread of bovine TB, including more targeted support for badger vaccination are being introduced by the government.
Stamping out infection in areas where the disease is spreading, known as the 'edge' area, is expected to benefit farmers and livestock businesses by an estimated £27 million over 10 years by limiting the impact of bovine TB on their businesses, according to Farming Minister David Heath.
"Bovine TB is a highly infectious disease that is devastating our dairy and beef industry and continues to spread across England at an alarming rate. We must do everything we can to crack down on what is the biggest animal disease threat facing the nation.
"We are taking tough and decisive action on TB at the frontier of this disease to stop and then reverse the spread. The measures we are introducing this year will help protect vast areas of England from the scourge of TB and take a significant step towards our goal of eradicating TB within 25 years."
Analysis suggests that, if left unchecked, bTB could spread beyond the edge area to areas such as Greater Manchester, Lincolnshire, Merseyside and West Yorkshire by 2022.
Dorset Wildlife Trust have been inviting members of the public who want their voices to be heard about the badger cull to sign the e-petition, and we are delighted that our proactive approach has undoubtedly contributed to the overwhelming amount of signatures collected.
Chief Executive for Dorset Wildlife Trust, Simon Cripps said: "Dorset Wildlife Trust has been outspoken in our opposition to badger culling in Dorset, and we will not allow badger culling on our land. We are sympathetic to farmers who have to deal with the devastating effects this disease has on cattle, and we continue to support alternative methods such as cattle vaccination, better bio security and badger vaccination. There is clearly a huge amount of public opinion against badger culling and we hope this petition will encourage the Government and the Dorset NFU to re-evaluate their culling policies to reflect the overwhelming scientific evidence that culling badgers is not an effective means of control.”
"Defra’s estimates have found that a badger cull is likely to see at best a 16% net reduction of bTB in cattle, which leaves 84% of the problem not dealt with. There is also scientific evidence to suggest that the cull may spread the disease further, as it will increase movement and contact between infected cattle and badgers. It is for these reasons that Dorset Wildlife Trust believes that vaccination of cattle in the long term, and vaccination of badgers in the short term are a more effective means of controlling bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in cattle."