Hundreds of people have been protesting against badger culling in Gloucestershire.
About 500 people joined the Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting demonstration in Gloucester city centre.
Pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset were aimed at limiting the spread of bovine tuberculosis (TB).
Earlier this month Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said the pilots would continue.
‘Recipe for disaster’
Organiser Carol Cook said the number of people who turned out to demonstrate shows “it is not acceptable for an industry to be killing our wildlife”.
She said they were “sympathetic” towards farmers, but added that the “industry needs to look at its own practices” and improve “bio-security in the farmyards themselves” to stop the spread of the disease.
“It isn’t us against the farmers at all – everyone can work together to stop this awful disease,” she said.
Conservationist Ian Redmond said most badgers do not have the disease and culling is a “recipe for disaster, not for curing the disease”.
POWA Press Release 17th March – Otis Ferry, ‘celebrity’ son of rock star Bryan, pro-hunt activist and Joint Master of the South Shropshire Hunt has, agreed to pay very substantial damages to two female hunt monitors, Mrs. Helen Ghalmi, who is a Protect Our Wild Animals [POWA] Associate, and Mrs. Susan Grima, after a 4 year legal battle by them.
Ferry’s last-minute offers of settlement were made and accepted immediately before trial in civil court. Mrs. Ghalmi is to be paid £8,000 by Ferry and Mrs. Grima a similar amount.
Ferry and his co-defendant, a Heythrop rider named John Deutsch, had already been convicted in Crown Court, on 22-5-09, for attacking the two ladies in November 2007. Both men pleaded guilty to a public order offence.
They had originally been charged with robbery and assault, but the former charges were dropped after a claim that it was intended to return the items removed. However, a video camera which Ferry was accused of having taken has not been returned.
The ladies, however, felt that the sentences – Discharges and £350 fines – which the Judge ordered paid to them as compensation – were nowhere near adequate to reflect the gravity of the offences against them and the terror and trauma they had suffered. They consequently launched civil claims against both Ferry and Deutsch, which have only recently been concluded.
Mrs. Ghalmi and Mrs. Grima were monitoring the Heythrop Fox Hounds on 21-11-07 near Lower Swell, Gloucs, in order to collect evidence of any illegal hunting.
They stated that their car was overtaken and blocked in by a vehicle being driven by Deutsch in a country lane. Deutsch then stormed towards their vehicle shouting abuse at them and violently ripped out the passenger side-window, right next to Ms. Grima, causing the glass to explode into tiny fragments.
Otis Ferry, who was a guest-rider with the Heythrop that day, then arrived and, also shouting, joined in the attack on the ladies.
Mrs.Ghalmi says that he tried to pull her out of the car, snatched her video-camera and then wrested her keys from her hand, during which her arm and fingers were injured.
Ferry then made off with the camera on horseback and admits he later wiped the film. Police arrived soon after, by when both attackers had made off. They later found the car keys discarded by Ferry. Both ladies were terrified for their safety throughout the joint attack by Ferry and Deutsch.
Ferry’s last-minute settlement offer meant he did not have to attend Court, but Deutsch continued to contest the ladies’ claims. Delivering his judgement at Brentford County Court on 5-3-14, Circuit Judge H.H.J.Powles, QC said he found Deutsch’s evidence wholly incredible.
He stated that this was ‘an angry attack by a man who trapped them and made them fear for their safety’, noted his ‘indifference and lack of concern’ and concluded he had ‘deliberately lied to the Court’. He further stated of Ferry and Deutsch that ‘they acted together’ and ‘each is liable as much as the other.’
The ladies’ counsel, David Rivers of Old Square Chambers, has published a digest of the case online. They were also represented by Howe & Co, Solicitors, of Brentford.
Speaking of the attack and its aftermath Mrs. Ghalmi [right, talking to police] said:- “I am so relieved it is finally over. The judge has listened to the evidence and rightly concluded that this was a vicious attack carried out solely because we were monitoring the Heythrop Hunt and these two individuals took it upon themselves to try and get rid of us.
To be trapped in a confined space in the middle of no where while two men attacked us was a terrifying and distressing ordeal to say the least. It was a nasty cowardly act by these two men and they should be ashamed of themselves.
I just hope this sends out a clear message to all Hunts that we won’t tolerate this kind of aggression towards monitors anymore. It’s been an extremely long drawn out process but its been worth it to have it recognised at last just how awful an ordeal this was and that when you cause harm to another it is only right and just that you should be held accountable. On that day we experienced a real taste of what the poor foxes go through.”
Mrs. Grima said:-“I’m just relieved that its now finally over and I can try and move on with my life. As a result of the attack I have been left with severe migraines and they show no sign of stopping, for all I know I may suffer with them for the rest of my life.
I was left with PTSD and this got to the point where it prevented me from wanting to leave my home, I couldn’t even bring myself to go and visit my mother when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. What these men did was vicious and yet even after pleading guilty they chose to prolong the suffering by dragging this case on for so long, thankfully the judge saw right through the lies.”
Alan Kirby, POWA spokesman, added:- “This is very far from the first time that pro-hunting fanatic Otis Ferry has been in trouble with the law and/or has had serious accusations made against him and his Hunt. It is gratifying to see he and his companion being made to pay for this vicious attack on two defenceless women in an isolated location.
This was just one of many such attacks, some even more violent and terrifying, by hunters and hunt supporters on anti-hunt activists which occur with disturbing regularity and which the authorities rarely treat with the seriousness they deserve.”
POWAperson adds:- Otis Ferry’s brushes with the law and trouble he and his Hunt have got into include the following:-
From the badger-killers website
“At lunchtime on the 29th of November a moment in history was created when the guardian released this story. Telling the world that finally the British government had been beaten into submission and called an early end to its wildlife massacre it called a “badger cull”.
The cull was always sold to the British public as a pilot to see if over a period of 6 weeks, badgers could be killed “effectively, safely & humanely”. Toward the end of those 6 weeks we the public were told that the original population studies had changed and the new population figures were actually much lower, they refused to credit us the sabs with destroying their Hair DNA population studies and instead decided to blame badgers for “moving the goalposts”. With massively reduced populations (strangely David Heath had been complaining along with many farmers of population “explosions”) the target to kill was made much easier for them to reach.
What they hadn’t planned on was the perseverance, tenacity, endurance & craftiness of those opposed to the cull. Many experienced hunt saboteurs walked the fields and woodlands of the cull zones night after night, as did many other people, these people just like sabs came from a wide variety of backgrounds, teachers, graphic designers, care workers, the very rich, the retired and yes even the unemployed and students.
A dedicated number of these people before the culls started, going as far back as June last year had been sett surveying the entire area, one of them “Jo Badger” recently passed away, her passing has been a great loss to many of us. Their work was the foundation for all the defence of the badgers during the cull & it is these people who know how active setts are in certain areas, finding the Hair DNA traps was an easy task for them.
With a total of over 500 sq Km’s surveyed, protecting the badgers from free shooters was a question of team work, whilst some people working tirelessly within the law traversed hundreds of miles of footpaths and reported in any sightings, Sab groups and people prepared to break minor trespass laws got closer to shooters and often moved them on with noise. Several weeks into the cull a small fortune was spent on night vision equipment and the amount of shooters being stopped increased rapidly.
That equipment like the fuel in the tanks was generously donated by supporters from across the country, without their support the campaign would have struggled greatly and we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped with fundraising to get people to the zones.
When the 6 week culls ended and it was announced in Somerset that they hadn’t achieved their targets we sighed with relief & prepared to focus just on Gloucestershire for the final week, to our dismay they announced extensions, in Somerset with the drastically reduced populations they announced that they had to kill another 165 badgers over a three week period. Having managed to kill over 100 a week during the 6 week cull people on the ground knew they had a lot of work to do to stop them reaching their targets.
With little or no holiday time left to claim many people took unpaid leave from work, relationships were strained and many people were suffering with extreme fatigue. Still they did not give up, with the weight of knowing that the culls would be rolled out if these succeeded, people buckled down to the work knowing that tens of thousands of badgers lives were in the balance. At the end of the 3 week extension 90 badgers had been killed, making the Somerset cull and extension a failure.
The shooters having failed at free shooting early on had gone over heavily to cage trapping as a tried and tested method of killing large numbers of badgers, when we knew this for sure, our efforts accordingly varied and we focussed as much resources as possible at finding cage traps and “neutralising” them.
In Somerset we never found more than 3 cages on one sett. Meanwhile in Gloucestershire the figures on the total killed came out, it was shockingly low at only 30% of the revised pop. figure, Natural England issued an extension for 8 weeks with a target of just 58% to achieve “disease control” the NFU didn’t mess about and promptly put down hundreds of traps.
Protest culture has for some years attributed minor criminal damage done at night to “pixies”. Some people find this word annoying, just as other people don’t identify with the word “sab”. Semantics to one side, the cage traps were destroyed as fast as they went down, for the most part by very normal people doing extraordinary work, through the day traps were found then by night they were destroyed, each one costing approx £150.
In just over 4 weeks nearly 400 of these traps had been made useless. With “free shooting” being proven to be a methodology that didn’t work, cage trapping was undertaken to kill as many badgers as possible. We the British public just weren’t having it.
Whilst we celebrate the failure of these badger culls and the part we played in their downfall, we mourn the loss of all the badgers that have been needlessly killed during this cull. We would ask anyone who thinks that killing badgers to stop the spread of bTB to spend a few minutes watching this video filmed just before the culls started.
We will continue with our campaign, filming farm conditions, sabbing pheasant shoots, organising boycotts, all the time building our numbers and reach on social media. The culls may continue, but so will we.
As has been proven today, if you ignore the will of the people, the people will fight back, we are organised, we have built teams of people who rely on each other, our supporters know the methods we use and are comfortable knowing that we behave honourably, we know how to disrupt culls, we are strong and we are many, and we will never leave our badgers undefended to be attacked by brutes and thugs.
The badger cull in Gloucestershire is being called off because not enough animals have been killed to meet targets.
The licence has been revoked by Natural England and the cull will end at 12:00 GMT on Saturday, a spokesman said.
An eight-week extension to the original six-week trial was due to end on 18 December.
It is not yet known how many badgers have been killed during the extension period.
During the original six-week period of the original licence, 708 badgers were killed in the county, 942 fewer than the target of 1,650.
A spokesman for Natural England, said: “There is no realistic prospect of the cull removing the number of badgers required by the licence, it has been discussed and agreed by Natural England that the cull will end at 12 noon tomorrow.”
In October, Natural England granted an eight-week extension to the cull after fewer animals than the original target were killed during the initial six-week period.
Government ministers and the NFU say culling badgers will curb TB in cattle, but protesters assert it has little effect.
A similar cull pilot in Somerset ended last month after it also failed to meet its target even after a three-week extension.
In that area there was an estimated 65% reduction in the badger population – the target was 70%.
Mark Jones from Humane Society International (HSI) UK said he was “relieved” that “at long last some common sense is being applied and the government’s badger cull fiasco will finally be over for the timebeing at least”.
“In the face of what has been the dismal failure of this policy, we commend Natural England for making the sensible decision to revoke the cull licence,” he added.
“They should have acted sooner and it is deeply regrettable that hundreds of badgers in Gloucestershire and Somerset have already paid for this ill-conceived policy with their lives.”
Article (Reel News) ‘Badger cull exposed as a cruel and pointless fiasco‘
“As we enter the final phase of the Gloucestershire cull we are requesting that people prepare for the final onslaught. Sett checking by day, sett sitting and patrols by night. We suspect that more cages and bait points will be put out as they are desperate to kill in the last week. As the Somerset cull finishes more activists will be freed to come to Gloucestershire. We would like to remind people of the office numbers:
01386 761455 and 07551 577870
and we are also using 07891 639803 if you cannot get through for any reason. Please do NOT put urgent call outs for help on FB, bear in mind many sabs will only read them days later when they have internet access and it interrupts what others are doing elsewhere.
There will be daily meeting points at Budgens in Newent for daytime sett checking which we are moving from 14.00 to 13.00 as from tomorrow but you can call us for info on where to go as well. Evening meeting point remains Eldersfield church at 19.00.
If you have your own setts that you check, please try and do so daily and let us know what you’re doing each day so that we don’t duplicate the checking.
Call us for more information and thanks for coming out!”