CONSERVATIONIST Chris Packham has sent a message of support to volunteers at the Wounded Badger Patrol Cheshire.

The Springwatch presenter spoke with volunteer Jane Smith during the recent People’s Walk for Wildlife in London, where he praised the group’s efforts and encouraged them to keep going with their nightly efforts to disrupt the current badger cull in Middlewich and across Cheshire.

Jane, who is also deputy leader of the Animal Welfare Party, described his support as a morale boost for those volunteers giving up their time to patrol in difficult conditions.

She said: “Patrolling places big demands on people. It’s late-night work, often wet and muddy, and sometimes can be upsetting.

“We’ve been out in the fields every single night for a month now, and we still have at least another two weeks to go, so encouragement from people like Chris Packham really helps boost morale. We’ve also had lovely support from Sir Ranulph Fiennes as well as from patrols in other zones across the country.”

Jane also claims that many local farmers are no longer in favour of the badger cull, favouring vaccination instead.

She added: “We really hope that the government and the National Farmers Union listen to their concerns going forwards. Many farmers have told us that they’ve lived with badgers on their land for multiple generations and never had a problem with them.

“We’ve said from the start that the government needs to look more closely at cattle housing and movements as well as at bio-security if they really want to tackle bovine TB.”

Last year, Cheshire was announced as one of 11 new areas where the government allowed badger culling as part of measures aimed at curbing the spread of bovine TB to cattle. The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) said such action is vital to beat the disease and protect the farming industry.

Opposers to the cull say killing badgers is inhumane and ineffective and experts have raised concerns about the policy, saying the gains won’t be large and costs could outweigh the benefits. Research also shows that close contact between badgers and cattle is rare.