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Farmers insist Queen guitarist Brian May is 'hypocritical' over badger cull

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: November 26, 2012

  • Brian May pictured at a ‘Stop the Cull’ rally on College Green in Bristol earlier this year

  • Brian May performing at the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games this summer, when he wore an image of badger on one sleeve

  • The ‘Exmoor Emperor’, poached in 2010 - May had previously criticised the killing

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Queen guitarist and badger saviour Brian May was forced to defend himself against accusations of hypocrisy yesterday, after he admitted that he allowed deer to be culled on his West estate.

The man who spearheaded the so-far successful campaign against the Government’s planned cull of badgers to fight against bovine TB said he continued a prior arrangement of culling when he bought and moved onto his estate in Dorset, but scrapped the cull after a year.

Mr May said he had been advised that the presence of a licensed and limited cull would help the environment and reduce the threat of poachers, but after 12 months he stopped any killing of deer on his land.

Last night, farmers in Gloucestershire who supported the badger cull accused the musician of hypocrisy, particularly after Mr May was one of the most vocal to speak out against the shooting of a huge Exmoor Stag known as ‘Emperor’, back in 2010.

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Mr May admitted that at the time he described that killing as a ‘despicable act’ that ‘belonged in the Dark Ages’, a stalker was shooting 23 mainly healthy young deer on his Dorset estate.

“I inherited culling of deer on the land I bought in Dorset a few years ago, and was initially advised that I ought to keep it up because having a gamekeeper discouraged poachers, and improved the health of the deer population,” said Mr May.

“I had my doubts, but was new to forest management and realised I had much to learn. I decided to let it continue for a short period, observe for a while, and then take what action I felt was right,” he added.

“A couple of years ago, having studied the effects, I decided to stop the culling.”

That was in 2010, and earlier this year Mr May’s high profile backing of a petition against the badger cull in the Forest of Dean and in west Somerset sparked a debate in parliament and the postponement of the cull until next autumn.

The RSPCA, of which Mr May is vice-president, said there was a difference between culling deer and culling badgers. “We understand that no culling of deer is taking place on Brian’s land,” a spokesman said.

“There is strong scientific evidence that deer culling is humane and effective in certain circumstances. The recently postponed cull of badgers does not accord with those circumstances,” he added.

But Jan Rowe, a dairy farmer from Gloucestershire who helped set up a company to organise the badger cull, said Mr May was being ‘utterly hypocritical’.

“On the one hand he is understanding the need to manage species that are over-populated but not applying the same principle to badgers, which in many parts of the country are significantly over-populated, one of the reasons why they are carrying TB at such high levels,” he said.

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  • Kindanimal  |  December 02 2012, 11:48AM

    I get heartly sick of people trying to blacken the names of the people whose hearts are in animal welfare, and the cruelty that our wildlife have to endure because of these people. Brian May is a good man that devotes a great deal of his time caring for animals and humans too. One wonders why the accusers seem to have some sort of campaign against him. Maybe the Countryside Alliance has a hand in this? Maybe because they are afraid that they will have to put themselves out and clean up their act as far as biosecurity is concerned? After all statistics always show that the majority of cattle deaths are due to poor husbandry not TB.

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  • stormkettle  |  December 01 2012, 11:44PM

    The badgers need protection from Mr Jan Rowe and his hired guns. Shooting to Kill healthy badgers is highly suspect behaviour.

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  • smallzoo22  |  November 27 2012, 2:02PM

    A rather pathetic article trying to blacken someones reputation. I would call anyone a liar who claims they have not made at least one decision in their life that they regret. Love and deepest respect to Brian May and all those who are trying to protect our wildlife and their habitat from senseless destruction and slaughter.

  • eyeopener  |  November 26 2012, 10:47PM

    'Charitable exploiters of Nativity'' Fantastic phrase....... but what exactly does it mean? Its alright knocking the RSPCA and the RSPB, but does your record of animal welfare match theirs? And before you issue a catalogue of their failings, why not present us with a catalogue of your acheivements in animal welfare.

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  • 2ladybugs  |  November 26 2012, 9:42PM

    Not all the UK farmers fault.......remembering that migratory birds are travelling and settling on fields in many European countries. Quote:- "The result of insufficient official monitoring in the past was that by the year 2000 trapping had spiralled out of control. It is estimated that over 15 million birds are killed in Cyprus each year, of which those legally hunted are only a small proportion. Estimates that 75% of all migrants birds landing in the worst affected areas are caught and killed may be an under-calculation: observers in those areas state that it is rare to see any bird alive except those caught in nets or on lime-sticks. No species can survive predation on this scale". That is 15 million per year. Is it any wonder that birds are in decline and have been since 1966! This is also happening on the African continent.

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  • Charlespk  |  November 26 2012, 9:40PM

    That's all you've ever got ALAN PETRIE. No intelligent answers; just fantasy and insults. You impress no one. (except other badgerists of course) You've all been found out. Including the RSPCA, the RSPB and all the rest of the 'Charitable exploiters of Nativity'.

  • fischadler  |  November 26 2012, 8:32PM

    Farmers have made a very poor job as guardians of the countryside. 44 million less birds than in 1966. Insects in decline including bees due to incessant and needless spraying of crops. Wildlife decimated by shooting estates and illegal hunting. There is no end to it. How can they claim to be guardians of the countryside. The only thing they guard is their bank balances.

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  • Charlespk  |  November 26 2012, 8:04PM

    Pride comes before a fall. . The tide has now turned, and the majority are now slowly waking up to the reality of this devastating disease that once haunted every family in the land in all its forms, and defied all attempts to remove its strangle hold. . The generation that grew up without any knowledge of the devastation it caused have led the way in the denial of the consequences of its insidious manifestations. Like those who have re-created the wetlands that previous generations worked tirelessly to keep properly drained. . They can't be told. . They just have to wait until disaster returns.

    |   3
  • E_Badger  |  November 26 2012, 7:53PM

    Apologies for the double post there - I think I've got water in the internets.

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  • E_Badger  |  November 26 2012, 7:41PM

    I'm not really sure where the likes of Jan Rowe is basing his claim of "hypocrisy" in this "apples and pears" comparison of badgers and deer; as Dr May's stance on not allowing the badger cull to go ahead has not changed and nor has the support of his supporters. The campaign against shooting badgers has always been about the flawed science, not about whether someone eats or abstains from meat and dairy. The fact that some campaign supporting groups have made this association amongst themselves does not detract from the fact that shooting badgers will not resolve cattle bTB.

    |   -1