THE Bucks' badger reared its stripy head in Wycombe on Friday but this time it was not the county's oldest recipe that was on show.

Rather than the traditional pastry dish enjoyed by Bucks residents for centuries these badgers were actually RSPCA campaigners dressed up as the elusive wild creatures in a bid to save them from being slaughtered.

The campaigners were handing out leaflets to raise awareness of the fact that the Government is deciding whether or not to cull badgers in a bid to stop the spread of TB which affects cows.

But the RSPCA believes that the link between badgers and bovine TB in cattle is not clear and fears that thousands of badgers could be unnecessarily slaughtered.

Linda Rimington, south Bucks RSPCA chairman, said: "The RSPCA believes that badgers are being made the scapegoats for a rise in bovine TB in cattle.

"The planned horrific cull is being planned despite Government research, which took eight years to complete, cost £34million and the lives of 12,000 badgers, which came to the conclusion that culling badgers is very likely to make the situation significantly worse."

Mike Collard, of the Buckinghamshire Badger Group, agrees.

He said: "The real cause of the spread of TB is the 14 million cattle movements every year.

"Badgers are the scapegoat for a disease spread by some farming techniques and killing them will not help to resolve the problem. In fact, science quite clearly shows that killing badgers actually makes things worse.

"The number of incidents of TB in Northern Ireland has been reduced by 40 per cent in one year simply by a tightened cattle testing regime."

The RSPCA says scientists have found that infected cows are the key source of infection in other cows.

And because there are so few cattle in Bucks, there is not a problem with the disease here. But despite this the Government is being extra safe by planning to introduce tighter controls on moving cattle all over the country.

Farmers, as of March 27, will only be able to move their older herds if the cows have tested negative to a TB test two months beforehand.