Article (Reel News) ‘Badger cull exposed as a cruel and pointless fiasco‘
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.
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.
Police confirmed this afternoon that a man had been arrested on suspicion of ‘aggravated trespass’ at Aston Down on Monday afternoon.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has a site there and witnesses have reported an increase in security fencing and officers at the site.
The Three Counties Sabs tweeted: “At Ashton [sic] Down ‘death-centre’ Jay arrested-trying to highlight evil place that provides the traps & carries out the autopsies #badgermonday”
He was named in an injunction on Thursday brought by the National Farmers Union to stop protesters ‘intimidating or harassing’ farmers.
A duty inspector who not confirm any further details at this time but a spokesman for Defra confirmed their at been a disturbance at the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency site at Aston Down.
The site has a history of links to badgers and TB.
The Defra wildlife unit was been heavily involved in the Krebbs Trial tests into the spread of bovine TB since 1998.
Workers from Aston Down were involved in trapping badgers and culling them as part of the Krebs trial to establish their link with the spread of bovine TB. They also tested badgers killed after being hit on the road for TB.
A Defra spokeswoman said: “We do have a site at Aston Down. There was an incident there.”
Bovine TB was devastating the dairy industry, she said.
“In TB hot spots such as Gloucestershire we need to deal with the infection in badgers if we’re to get a grip on TB there. No country has dealt with the disease without tackling infection in both wildlife and cattle.
“We are working on new cattle and oral badger vaccines but they are years away from being ready and we cannot wait while this terrible disease spreads.”
The cull has, however, provoked widespread public opposition from wildlife lovers who say badger deaths won’t solve the disease problem.
We are truly amazed by the astonishing response from across the country against the cull and immensely grateful to those who have travelled such long distances to be here with us. We would like to make the following points regarding this area in order to ensure that those coming here make the most impact and also are safe.
Firstly the shooting has not yet begun. The resources of those who are from far afield may need to be focused on when it does begin. Using up all days off, finances, goodwill (for those dog sitting and so forth) now may mean that some may not be able to come later when lots of people are needed.
There are three areas of anti cull activity which people coming into the area may wish to get involved with;
Being at Forthampton, the more sedentary can have a picnic, others may wish to partake a ramble of the many footpaths or cycle around the lanes. Stalls in local towns and villages, demos etc. Feel free to contact us and see what is going on
Now if you want to come sett surveying and are not part of a visiting group we need to meet you, we need to ensure that you know how to survey and read a map and if not team you up with someone who has those skills. We can not emphasise enough the importance of going through us first because many areas have been looked at thoroughly so we don’t want work duplicated, we also don’t want people going blind into certain areas where landowners are prone to be very agitated and potentially violent both for their own safety and the safety of others who may walk into a situation the very next day. We also need areas that have not yet been done to be allocated so please do not just turn up, pick a wood and go searching there is a system already in place.
Delivering leaflets and papers, we are looking to get these delivered all across the cull zone.
If you do want to come to the Gloucestershire zone and want to meet up with us we would be delighted to hear from you and help with accommodation. We are however all volunteers and if we don’t get back right away please call us again, it’s busy down here! We also ask that people look after themselves and others. Come prepared! It can get very cold in the fields and woods especially at night you need the following;
Layers will keep you warmest and when it gets hot you can take some off.
Waterproof coats and leg wear.
Waterproof boots, wellies or walking boots.
Water……absolutely essential that everyone carries a water bottle.
Torch and spare batteries.
Camera/mobile/reflective jacket (if you want).
If out in the day and walking and wearing shorts….you WILL regret it. Carry trousers/waterproof trousers to put on if you have to walk through brambles,nettles.
Probably best to have a change of clothes too.
A sleeping bag is useful if you need to stay over.
Please ensure that any car brought into the zone is legal i.e MOT/tax/insured/ driving licence/etc, the police are checking.
Our contact numbers are:
Drew GABS 07526 829426
Three Counties 0752 7773697
Waterproofs, good boots, warm clothes, essential it will be cold and more than likely wet.
Try to layer , have a warm hat, bring a dry pair of socks, we have seen at least one frost and even on a clear night the heavy dew can leave you soaked.
- Flourescent jackets.
- Good water bottle, essential to stop dehydration, essential that each person has his/her own. High energy snacks.
- Basic phone with basic essential numbers and credit (losing an expensive smart phone is not good). Please bear in mind coverage in many parts of Gloucestershire (especially the Forest of Dean) is not good so have a back up plan e.g radios, but of course the enemy can then listen in.
- Sleeping bag for wherever you are staying, spare clothes, toiletries etc
- Torches with spare batteries and bulbs. ABSOLUTELY essential
- Pencil (writes better if damp) and paper
- Camera video/stills charged and sd card
- Whistle international distress signal is 6 blasts
- First aid kit including space blanket/plasters for blisters cuts
- Anything else
If you work in retail for outdoor supplies, electrical goods, whole foods, toiletries etc please consider discounts or donations of supplies to help sustain activists during this physically and mentally challenging period. If you know an individual or group coming to Gloucestershire to help the badgers please consider helping them be prepared, dig out old torches from the broom cupboard/lend a sleeping bag/ etc etc
*contact details in About/Contact section