ANGRY protestors shouted “badger killer” at the visiting Secretary of State who has overseen the start of a controversial cull.
The group confronted Owen Paterson, MP for Shropshire North and Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, at the official opening of Oswestry Health Centre calling him a “coward” for his part in a pilot badger cull intended to curb bovine TB.
Spokesman Tris Pearce, himself a cattle farmer and self-professed ‘badger expert’, claimed the government had “cherry-picked” information to support their claim the cull would work and ignored evidence to suggest the contrary.
He said: “TB needs to be dealt with in cattle, not badgers.
“A cull will take years, millions of pounds and lots of dead badgers to have any effect and farmers are being led up the garden path in believing this is the solution.
“We need better testing and better hygiene on farms and at market – that will make a big difference,” he added.
Lorraine Parker believes Shropshire could be next on the cards for a cull if the pilot, which began two weeks ago in Gloucester and Somerset, is rolled out and passionately claimed Mr Paterson was failing to safeguard the environment by allowing it to go ahead.
“This cull is going to have a negative effect on the whole of the environment which will in turn effect tourism because our beautiful countryside is one of the main reasons people come to Shropshire.”
But Mr Paterson explained there was no vaccine alternative, and might not be for another 10 years, and claimed a cull was more humane than leaving sick badgers to suffer.
“I respect the protestors’ right to express their views but the two I spoke to didn’t seem to want to listen to the facts.
“In every other country where cattle are under threat they take out the wildlife and they’ve dramatically reduced the problem, like in Ireland,” he added.
l The campaigners were approached by police officers who appealed to them to maintain a peaceful protest which the group assured them was their intention and thanked them for “acting fairly” by allowing them to demonstrate.
Sergeant Scott Barnes said: “Everyone has a right to protest and free speech but you are on NHS land and it would be unfair to attempt to overshadow what is an important event for the community.”