Archive | August 2013

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Badger cull expected to start in Gloucestershire next week

Rumours are rife that the badger cull will start in Gloucestershire next week.

About 5,000 badgers are expected to be killed in controlled shootings over six weeks in Somerset and Gloucestershire.

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Supporters say the cull is necessary to tackle bovine TB, which can be spread from infected badgers, but opponents say it is inhumane and ineffective.

The first shots have already been fired in Somerset but it is believed the cull will start in the county next week.

Charkes Mann, NFU county chairman, refused to confirm or deny those rumours.

He said: “As much as we would much rather not do all this, it is a necessity for the cattle and for the badgers. Don’t forget that the badgers are infected as well and are dying slow, painful deaths. To sort this out we need to make sure the wildlife is clean.”

Liz Gaffer, spokesman for Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting (Gabs), said: “I have heard that shooting is starting next week, but there are lots of rumours flying around.

“We have badger patrols out every night at the moment, I think we have between 100 and 200 volunteers. These are not animal rights extremists, they are just normal people who are concerned about how humane this cull is.”

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said: “We know that despite the strict controls we already have in place, we won’t get on top of this terrible disease until we start dealing with the infection in badgers as well as in cattle.

“That is why these pilot culls are so important. We have to use every tool in the box because TB is so difficult to eradicate and it is spreading rapidly. If we had a workable vaccine we would use it.”

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Also in the news: Badger cull: Protest camp evicted, as anarchists claim responsibility for Portishead arson

Message from Sabs in the Gloucester Zone

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“We need to have people out during the day sett checking high risk setts, we need people in the field BEFORE dusk i.e 18.00 nightfall is too late. We are trying to set up a reception point for people who are new to the area and/or new to this sort of action so people can go there and meet others and be pointed in the right direction.

You need to be aware that at present we are not giving out meeting points for very good reasons you just need to call us and get in the cull zone until others can take over the role of directing people.

You will need to make sure that you are dressed for walking and for wet weather, have maps OS 190/179 and 14 and plan for transport, where you are staying and make sure all vehicles are legal. Do bear in mind that most of the time you will be sat in a car, driving about or footslogging it for miles, it can be monotonous and exhausting with no apparent immediate impact but what is happening is this… We are being seen as keeping watch, we are delaying the cull just by being out here.

If you want to be visible then wear anti badger cull stuff and plaster the car in stickers you will give the cullers the heebie jeebies and take the focus off of sabs. If you want to get in the field and look around dress as a rambler look inconspicuous, sit in the local pubs and make conversation, park up at junctions and watch.”

Tel: 07516024180

Badger patrols are disrupting the cull, protesters claim

The quiet country lanes of Somerset were disturbed by dozens of people blowing whistles, shouting and shining torches into hedgerows as protesters vowed to be on “patrol” every night in the countryside to stop the badger cull going ahead.

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On Tuesday night the tiny village of Monksilver was “patrolled” by around 50 protesters against the badger cull.

Police cars also drove around the area and later “saboteurs” refusing to give names were seen also taking up position in the peaceful hamlet of just 20 cottages.

At regular intervals through the night protesters blew whistles and shone torches into hedgerows near houses to “warn” badgers back into setts and disturb marksmen carrying out the cull.

A number of 4×4 vehicles protesters suspected of taking part in the cull were followed and a loud car horn was heard going off, possibly as a result of a confrontation with protesters.

Farmers reported animals being released from fields in other parts of Somerset.

Reports on Facebook cited sightings of injured badgers and “dead badgers being put in sacks”, although there was no evidence of this, attracting even more protesters to the area.

At midnight activists, who did not want to be named, parked up in the small village to “assist in stopping the cull”.

The Somerset Badger Patrol, made up of local people against the badger cull, said the protests would continue every night into the early hours for weeks to come wherever the cull was taking place.

The protesters, wearing walking boots and carrying high lumen torches, whistles and cameras to “catch” any evidence of a cull, insisted they would stick to footpaths and ‘legal’ activity.

Aged in their early 20s to late 60s, the group walked around into the early hours looking for evidence of 4x4s and shining torches into woodland or copses to stop any shooting activity from even some distance away.

Stephen, an engineer who drives 80 miles every night to take part in the patrols, said the patrols were already making a difference by making life difficut for those carrying out the cull.

Others included Aura, a graphic designer, who had bought along her dog, and Gemma, a mother of two, who said she was taking it in turns with her husband to take part in the patrols.

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Badger cull begins in Somerset

A controversial badger cull in Somerset is under way despite protests, the National Farmers’ Union has confirmed.

About 5,000 badgers are expected to be killed in controlled shootings over six weeks in Somerset and Gloucestershire, in an attempt to control TB in cattle.

Supporters say the cull is necessary to tackle bovine TB, which can be spread from infected badgers, but opponents say it is inhumane and ineffective.

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The RSPCA said it was “saddened” and anti-cull protesters have held a vigil.

It is understood the cull in Gloucestershire will start later this week.

In a letter to members, National Farmers’ Union President Peter Kendall said: “I am writing to let you know that the first pilot badger control operations have begun.

“This is an important step not just for cattle farmers but for the whole farming industry.

“I know that many of you reading this will have suffered the misery of dealing with TB on farm – some of you for decades – and I hope now you will feel that something is finally being done to stem the cycle of infection between cattle and badgers.

“I hope that when time shows that these culls have reduced TB in cattle – just as has happened in Ireland – that even more people will understand that while sad, these culls are absolutely necessary.”
‘Completely unscientific’

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But an activist from Forthampton near Tewkesbury, who would only give her name as Lynne, said the cull was “utterly unacceptable” and described it as the “extermination of the badger on British soil”.

“We’re planning a call-out of the whole country and expect people from all walks of life to come down to do all that they can to save lives,” she said.

“There will be a mix of both interfering with the cull and protest walks wearing fluorescent vests.”

Lynne said she did not believe the cull represented the democratic point of view and that it was “completely unscientific”.

“Whether domestic or wild, they have a right to live as much as we do,” she said.

“When badgers flee the cull zone, infected badgers may go into free zones.”

Following the NFU announcement, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said: “We know that despite the strict controls we already have in place, we won’t get on top of this terrible disease until we start dealing with the infection in badgers as well as in cattle. That’s the clear lesson from Australia, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland and the USA.

“That is why these pilot culls are so important. We have to use every tool in the box because TB is so difficult to eradicate and it is spreading rapidly.

“If we had a workable vaccine we would use it.

“A vaccine is at least 10 years off.”

‘Sensible policies’

Mr Paterson denied suggestions from anti-cull campaigners that the government was simply trying to appease the farming community.

“I’ve been looking at this since 2000 – and the bacterium spreads from animals to humans,” he said.

“We’re following successful and sensible policies in other countries.

“In the Republic of Ireland the disease was rocketing until they began to cull. Now there’s a significant reduction in the disease.

“I want to end up with healthy cattle living alongside healthy wildlife.”

Dominic Dyer, of Care for the Wild, which opposes the cull, said the badger population like any other would go through good and bad times.

“There’s no scientific or economic justification for the cull and it may make the spread (of TB) worse not better.

“This is killing without protection – they’re not even testing (the culled animals) for TB and they’re only monitoring the cull of a small number.

“It’s an absolute scandal.”

‘Misguided attempt’

The RSPCA said it was “deeply saddened to learn that the pilot badger cull has begun and that hundreds of animals are now being shot in parts of Somerset and Gloucestershire”.

Chief executive Gavin Grant referred to the cull as a “misguided attempt to control bovine TB in cattle” and said the organisation was “seriously concerned that the methods being used to kill the badgers are not humane”.

“As we speak thousands of innocent animals are being culled in our countryside – and we do not know the extent of their suffering or how humane the methods being used to kill them are.

“It is very likely that many of them are lying injured, suffering a painful death.

“The most tragic thing is that this suffering is so needless.

“Science has shown that this cull is not the answer to bovine TB in cattle. In fact, it could make things a lot worse.

“Vaccination and better bio-security are the only sustainable and true ways forward.”

High-velocity rifles

Police officers were earlier sent to parts of Gloucestershire to “provide reassurance” after speculation the cull was imminent.

And Avon and Somerset Chief Constable Nick Gargan said his force had been preparing for the start of the cull for some time.

“There’s been a good relationship between Avon and Somerset Constabulary and our neighbours Gloucestershire Police, as well as the Home Office and Defra,” he said.

“It’s their call not ours, but we understand we have a supporting role in ensuring that this democratically-elected government can push its programme forward… and similarly to ensure that people who want to protest within the law are able to do so.”

The cull will involve the animals being shot in the open by marksmen using high-velocity rifles. The badgers will not be trapped in cages first.

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