Thousands of animal welfare supporters took to the streets of central London to protest against the controversial badger-cull policy, which came into effect yesterday. Many of the protesters were dressed in black and white and chanted "Shame on Defra" and "Stop the cull". Some were walking dogs dressed in badger costumes.
Under the new regulations, up to 5,094 free-running badgers can now be shot by trained marksmen: 2,932 in west Gloucestershire and 2,162 in west Somerset. A third licence is being considered for Dorset.
The protesters were led by the former Queen guitarist Brian May, who delivered a 234,000-signature petition against the cull to Downing Street.
The cull aims to reduce outbreaks of TB in dairy and beef herds, which led to the slaughter of 28,000 cattle in England last year. Culling 70 per cent of badgers in a particular area, cull supporters say, can reduce the disease by 16 per cent. Protesters argue that the cull is ineffective and unethical.
A YouGov poll showed that 34 per cent oppose the policy, while 29 per cent are in favour of it. Labour opposes it and has tabled an Opposition Day debate on the policy for Wednesday.