SHOOTING badgers to tackle the spread of TB in cattle was branded as 'scientifically and ethically unsupportable' by former government scientist Dr Chris Cheeseman at a public meeting in Stroud.

More than 50 activists attended the meeting, organised by the Badger Trust, at the Old Town Hall in Stroud on Saturday where retired head of wildlife diseases Dr Cheeseman told the audience that the government should change its policy, explaining that evidence showed culling badgers could make bovine TB worse He also said the government had backed itself into a corner with a policy that would alienate the public and cause numerous problems for farmers, land owners and residents in areas where culling was given the go-ahead Speaking at the meeting he said: "Shooting at night over large areas with high-powered rifles is inherently dangerous and has huge animal welfare implications.

"The government should instead adopt a genuinely science-led policy with sustained support for the vaccination of badgers and cattle, improved cattle testing and movement restrictions as well as improving bio-security on farms.

Speaking after the meeting, district councillor David Drew said: 'I was very pleased at the number of people who came to the meeting to show that they remain actively engaged with the issue of bovine TB.

"Dr Chris Cheeseman demolished the case for culling and I hope that Defra will re-think their plans and instead invest more heavily in a programme of cattle testing, better bio-security and vaccination"