Stars praise girl's website against cull
A SHERBORNE teenager has won praise from celebrity wildlife experts for creating her own anti-badger cull website.
Kill the Cull attracted 4,000 hits in less than two weeks.
Olivia Darling-Finan, aged 15, set up the site after watching news coverage of Government plans for a pilot cull in west Somerset this autumn.
The plans, introduced to tackle bovine tuberculosis (TB), a disease which infects cattle, propose controlled shooting of badgers with high-velocity rifles.
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Former Buckler’s Mead student Miss Darling-Finan hit on the idea for the website to help the protest.
She said: “I have been interested in wildlife since I was a toddler and I love badgers.
“I remember going to watch them in their setts when I was young. I was horrified when I heard about the cull.
“I wanted to help by raising money for charities but I can’t do that until I’m 16.
“Instead, I thought I could inform people and make them more aware of the situation.”
Miss Darling-Finan put her technology skills to good use and built the site within a month. She said: “I spent a lot of time verifying all the information to make sure it was correct.
“I’ve included links to petitions, an e-mail template and contact details so people can contact their local MP.”
Her work has prompted TV wildlife presenters Chris Packham and Bill Oddie, best known for appearing on popular BBC wildlife programme Springwatch, to get in touch, congratulating her on her work.
Miss Darling-Finan said: “I’m surprised at how much feedback I have had already. People have sent me some really great e-mails and Chris Packham said my work was inspiring.”
Both e-mailed the teenager and Mr Packham also mentioned her on Twitter. He said: “She’s 15 and she cares enough to do this. Not only is that fantastic but it highlights the degree of opposition to this lunacy.”
Speaking exclusively to the Western Gazette this week, Mr Packham said: “When it gets to the point that a 15-year-old girl becomes sufficiently motivated to support a campaign like this, it clearly indicates that this issue is affecting a huge amount of people.
“I was tremendously impressed with how straightforward the website is. It is not reactionary and helps to give readers a better understanding of the subject.
“I am pleased to offer my support to anyone who campaigns in this manner. She is a remarkable girl.”
Mr Packham, who spent five years in the New Forest in the 1980s studying badgers, believes there are better methods to tackle TB than a cull.
Olivia’s father Kevin, aged 55, said: “I am 100 per cent behind Olivia and what she wants to do.
“I am opposed to the cull, but I have encouraged her to think independently.
“She is very interested in animal welfare.”
The controversial debate reached new heights this week as Queen guitarist Brian May joined animal conservationists in Bristol on an anti-cull rally.
Also, The Badger Trust has lost its High Court appeal to stop the cull going ahead on Tuesday.