PUBLIC opinion is dramatically opposed to a badger cull in Gloucestershire.
That is according to a poll undertaken on The Citizen's website www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk which asked visitors the question "Do you agree with the proposed badger cull?"
At the time of going to press yesterday, an overwhelming 2,100 said no, while just 227 said yes. A further nine were undecided.
Liz Gaffer, the spokesman for Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting, was not surprised by the statistics.
She said: "There are many reasons for people being against it and principally these are the scientific evidence saying this will make no difference and concerns over health and safety.
"In terms of the unpopularity of the cull, this is an area we have communicated to the local council and in writing to MPs."
The group handed in a 779-name petition to Gloucestershire County Council last week asking them to prevent their tenant farmers from culling badgers. The issue is being discussed by the full council next month.
Meanwhile Steve Jones, from The Pludds in the Forest of Dean, who has 35 years' experience in farming cattle across Europe, said: "People are largely not in favour of a cull, and a lot of farmers aren't for it either.
"Culling badgers is not going to have an effect on TB in cattle at all.
"Controlling the disease is more about good husbandry on a farm. Once it is in your herd you have to address other areas such as managing the water supply."
However, there is an opposing viewpoint too.
Eastington farmer Andrew Cozens, who manages 350 cattle, was left unfazed by the results of the poll but believes the public perception of the cull is not realistic.
He said: "Sentiment does not pay the bills sadly. No farmer wants to kill badgers, but we can't afford TB.
"If one of my cows gets TB that's £2,000 gone and I'd be lucky to get three quarters of that back in compensation.
"TB is costing the country £90million a year which could afford a new hospital every single year."
An online government petition against the cull, championed by Queen guitarist Brian May, has grown rapidly with more than 144,000 people signing it in three weeks.