PRESS ASSOCIATION -- Labour has launched a campaign to galvanise public opposition to Government plans for a badger cull in England as part of efforts to tackle TB in cattle.
Shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh has written to more than 25,000 supporters in previous countryside and animal welfare campaigns, urging them to lobby their MPs on the issue, and Labour has also launched an online petition.
Last month the Government announced the controversial plans to allow farmers and landowners to cull badgers at their own expense in a bid to tackle the disease in herds, which led to the slaughter of 25,000 cattle in England last year.
Further consultations will be held before a widespread cull is brought in, but the Government plans to pilot culling in two areas, to test out the "controlled shooting" of free-running badgers.
The plans were welcomed by farming groups who have long lobbied for measures to control populations of badgers, which are known to spread what they describe as a "devastating" disease to cattle.
But the proposed cull was condemned by animal welfare and wildlife groups.
Ms Creagh said: "Bovine TB is a terrible disease but the Government's plans to cull badgers are bad for farmers, bad for badgers and bad for the taxpayer.
"We need a science-led policy to manage cattle movements and develop a vaccine to tackle TB in badgers and cattle. Instead the Tory-led Government has reduced the number of vaccine trials Labour commissioned to just one."
She added that opposition to the plans for a cull were growing.