An online petition against the cull of badgers which was started by Queen guitarist Brian May has secured more than 250,000 signatures.
It is the highest ranking active petition on the Government e-petitions website and has 100,000 more names than the petition which comes in second, about immigration rules.
It is about 7,000 names shy of being the most signed petition ever on the website, an honour currently held by a petition related to the London riots.
Animal welfare campaigner Dr May has been a prominent voice against Government plans to cull badgers in two parts of England in an effort to stop the animal spreading bovine tuberculosis (TB) in cattle.
Pilots in west Gloucestershire and west Somerset, considered two bovine TB hotspots, began at the start of the month, despite opposition.
Dr May has worked with Team Badger, a coalition of organisations including the International Fund For Animal Welfare, the League Against Cruel Sports, the RSPCA and his own campaign Save Me. It has also won support from sections of the farming community which would prefer to pursue the option of vaccination against bovine TB, rather than "an expensive and ultimately ineffective" badger cull.
– Dr Brian May
The cull is an irreversible tragedy for our wildlife. Randomly slaughtering 70% of badgers will destroy them forever, bringing about immense suffering for these highly intelligent mammals. But the cull is a tragedy for farmers and their cattle too.
The cull has no basis in science - which simply means it will not work.