A peaceful protest against the Government’s controversial badger cull policy is being held in Exeter tomorrow.
The event has been organised by Exeter March Against the Badger Cull and is being supported by national wildlife charities Care for the Wild and the Badger Trust.
Speakers will include leading anti-cull spokesman Dominic Dyer, Jean Berry, from Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting, and wildlife campaigner Steve Tomlin.
Joint organiser Andy Gilbert said he expected people from across the Westcountry to join the day of action.
“It looks likely that yet again the fields and farms of the South West will face night time shooting and cage trapping of badgers and once again the most dedicated of activists will be there night after night monitoring and protesting this issue which is so divisive within our communities,” he said.
“Saturday will be the opportunity for all those who disagree with the cull policy to voice their opinion in a democratic and peaceful protest open to all members of the public young and old.”
Earlier this week, the Government refused to confirm or deny reports that culls are to restart this summer with a third zone in Dorset added to those in Somerset and Gloucester.
Claims have also surfaced that plans to bring the cull to Devon and Cornwall where bovine TB is a particular problem have been dropped for the time being.
A report on the effectiveness of the pilot schemes to test free shooting is yet to be published.
Mr Dyer, chief executive of the Badger Trust and policy advisor to Care for the Wild, said: “I’ve worked in the agriculture and food industry for most of my career, and this is the worst agricultural policy I’ve seen in 30 years.
“I’m sympathetic to farmers, but culling badgers simply won’t work. Ordinary people from around the country have come out to protest against this barbaric cull, and we’re looking forward to seeing many of them come to Exeter.
“The facts are stacked against a cull. Badgers may pass TB to cattle, but they originally caught it from the cattle themselves – both the origin of this disease and the ultimate solution come from improving farming practices, not killing wildlife – and we’re already seeing the evidence for that,” Mr Dyer said.
“Second, the vast majority of scientific opinion says culling is a pointless exercise which could lead to an increase in the spread of TB.
“Thirdly, the culls have so far cost over £4,000 per dead badger – a disgusting waste of money in every sense. The time has come to stop the cull once and for all.”
More than 500 people are expected to attend the march. They will meet in Belmont Park at noon on Saturday. After speeches, marchers will pass down Sidwell street, through Northernhay Gardens and around the High Street, Cathedral and Princesshay.