Police deployed in Gloucestershire over badger cull 'concerns'

Supporters and opponents argue over the science behind culling badgers as a way to prevent the spread of bovine TB amongst cattle

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Police officers have been sent to parts of Gloucestershire to "provide reassurance" after speculation that a pilot badger cull could soon begin.

However, Gloucestershire Police has confirmed its planned response to the cull had not yet been activated.

Pilot culls are being trialled to tackle TB in cattle and will run over a six-week period in parts of west Somerset and west Gloucestershire.

The cull in two pilot zones could begin later.

It is thought the cull could start in West Somerset, around Taunton and Minehead. A further cull is expected in West Gloucestershire by the end of the week.

'Minimise disruption'

Gloucestershire Police said media and social media speculation had led to some concern in local communities.

"As a result, we will be deploying a proportionate policing response in Gloucestershire over the Bank Holiday weekend to provide reassurance to those communities and minimise any potential disruption to their lives," a spokesperson said.

"This is in keeping with our commitment to deliver an effective local policing service before, during and after the proposed cull."

Campaigners have fought the plans since the test areas were revealed last year. They argue a cull is inhumane and ineffective in controlling the disease in cattle.

On Monday, about 100 protesters wearing badger masks held a candlelit vigil in Minehead.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has said the cull is necessary and, carried out in the right way, can make a meaningful contribution to controlling TB.

Elsewhere, Jay Tiernan - a spokesman for the Stop the Cull group - has been arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass at the Defra-run Aston Down Wildlife Unit.

The unit does not fall within the pilot cull zone, which covers part of the west of the county.

Mr Tiernan was named in a High Court injunction that was granted last week to restrict some protests.

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