ROCK star Brian May took a tour around Newent before joining dozens of anti-badger cull protesters on a walk through one of the pilot areas.

The Queen guitarist was applauded when he met about 50 people taking part in one of the nightly Wounded Badger Patrols in Eldersfield, near Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire. The controversial pilots in Gloucestershire and Somerset aim to tackle tuberculosis in cattle by killing about 5,000 badgers over a six-week period.

The NFU confirmed the west Somerset cull began last week and opponents believe the shooting in west Gloucestershire started last Tuesday night. May said that his visit to the county was timed to give a morale boost to those out on nightly badger patrols.

The musician, a leading opponent of the cull, had earlier been in Newent to meet residents and discuss their views on the pilot scheme taking place on their doorstep. May, who is a member of the Team Badger campaign, said: “I’m here to support our people who are here on the ground doing what they can to observe and try and make sure that humanity is followed in this cull and trying to save the lives of badgers.

“Once the country sees what is going on with the brutality and the senselessness of this government policy, I don’t believe that Britain will stand for it.

“We are a nation of animal lovers and we are decent people. If this rolls out all through England it’s a disaster.” An online petition that May started against the pilots has become the most signed on the official government website, with 300,000 people having added their name.

A Gloucestershire police spokesman said four people had been arrested at around 2am in the Forthampton area on Sunday. They were held on suspicion of aggravated trespass after police responded to reports of horns being blown and individuals straying from a public footpath.

They were later released.

The culls aim to assess if culling can be done effectively, safely and humanely, with plans to roll out the scheme more widely in areas that are hotspots for TB in cattle.

Farmers and the Government insist the culling is necessary.

  •  Four people have been arrested on suspicion of theft and aggravated trespass, as part of the police response to the current badger cull.

The controversial cull, aimed at tackling tuberculosis (TB) in cattle, is believed to have started on the Gloucestershire - Worcestershire border last week.

A 46-year-old woman from Evesham, 46-year-old woman from Cheltenham, a 34- year-old woman from Gloucester and a 23-year-old man from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, were arrested at about 3.10am on Tuesday.

They were held at Redmarley, near Ledbury. The 34- year-old was also arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon. All four were bailed and are due back at Cheltenham police station on November 5.