CIVIC bosses in Southampton are being urged to say “no” to any plans to cull badgers in Hampshire.

Conservation campaigners at the Sholing Valleys Study Centre has petitioned the city council to adopt a policy against culling, after Hampshire County Council and Eastleigh Borough Council voted to ban it on any council-owned land.

The news comes after the Government announced it has called off its cull in Gloucestershire as not enough animals have been killed to meet its target.

Ministers say culling the animals will curb tuberculosis in cattle, but it has been fiercely opposed by animal rights campaigners including former Queen guitarist Brian May.

The Government’s second pilot cull in Somerset was also called off last month after it also failed to meet its target.

Supported by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (HIWWT), Chris Fry from Sholing Valleys wants council chiefs to adopt a “no cull” stance.

Although there are currently no plans to carry out a cull in Hampshire, he wants councils in the county to provide a united stance against the measure.

While there is no official figure for the badger population in Southampton, it is believed there are several hundred of the animals living in the city, in locations as central as Hum Hole in Bitterne.

He said: “Vaccination is the route to go down, because the scientific evidence has proved that culls do not work. This is to get one voice saying “no” to what has become a political idea, rather than a common sense one.

“If we can get the city council to say no as Hampshire and Eastleigh have done, it brings pressure on the Government and says ‘let’s look at the long term, not the short term’.”

Peter Hutchings from HIWWT said: “The trust fully supports a no culling policy and would urge other landowners in the region, including the Southampton City Council, to follow the same policy.”

Council environment chief Councillor Jacqui Rayment said there were currently no plans to put forward a no-culling policy.