MORE than 50 volunteers from badger groups in Cheshire staged a peaceful demonstration outside the NFU offices in Middlewich town centre on Monday in protest of badger culling.

The protest was organised by Cheshire Wounded Badger Patrol in the run-up to this week’s High Court challenge against the badger cull on biodiversity grounds by ecologist Tom Langton.

Badgers have been culled in Cheshire every Autumn since 2017, in an effort to try and reduce the risk of transmitting TB (Bovine Tuberculosis) to cattle.

But this year culling activity has been stepped up through the Government permitting ‘supplementary licences’ which allow licence holders to shoot badgers from July through to January.

A spokesperson for Cheshire Wounded Badger Patrol said: “The protest went really well and passing drivers honked their support throughout.

“Thousands of badgers have been killed in Cheshire to date, and more than 140,000 badgers nationally.

“There is simply no evidence to support the Government’s claim that culling badgers will reduce TB in cattle.

“The cull has always been unscientific and inhumane – but we now also know that it’s completely ineffective.

“Every last badger in England could be killed and there would still be bovine TB, which is primarily transmitted between cattle.

“Badgers are of course the primary victims of this heinous policy, and their local populations will never recover.”

Earlier this year, the Government confirmed it will no longer license new intensive badger culls after 2022, alongside shortening and restricting supplementary badger cull licensing.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is phasing out intensive culling, with a cattle vaccine to be developed over the next five years and plans to vaccinate more badgers.

NFU Cheshire County Adviser Helen Wainwright said: “The NFU has always recognised the right to protest within the law.

“Thankfully the small amount of people who assembled near to our office in Middlewich on Monday expressed their viewpoint without intimidation or disruption to business.

“The NFU’s stance on this issue is clear.

“Where prevalent, bovine TB continues to devastate farming families.

“Which is why the NFU has always supported a comprehensive eradication strategy which includes cattle movement control, increased biosecurity on farm and control of the disease in wildlife.”