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”.
“Badger culling banned tonight on over 3,000 acres of the Malvern Hills in Worcestershire following a petition signed by 2,300 local people. Another victory for the Badger Army and care & compassion over senseless slaughter of our wildlife” Dominic Dyer March 17th
As a couple of Three Counties Hunt Saboteurs headed over to Stratford for the anti-cull demo, a car-load of us headed out to the Cotswold Vale Farmers’ Hunt who were meeting at the Red Hart Inn in Blaisdon.
With no sign of hounds in the area, it looked like the rumours had been true and they were only going out for a “happy hack”. Luckily we had news of a Ross Harriers meet in nearby Drybrook, so decided to pay them a visit.
We found them drawing a covert in the sun and, with the scenting conditions not being great, it was no surprise that the hounds failed to pick up on a scent. It wasn’t long before we were spotted by Lee Peters himself who stopped for a long chat (while we’re chatting, he’s not hunting) before calling in his “boys”, getting a couple of riders to move their horses in the way of our car while he moved off.
One pair of foot-sabs got out of the car, following him on foot for some time. With the sun still strong and conditions not the best for scent to “stick”, the hounds drew a blank in most coverts Lee put them in.
Foot-sabs and car split up to cover both sides of a large piece of woodland on a hill in order to keep tabs on the hunt in the Deepdean area. As we were about to meet up, hounds started speaking in a large woodland by a valley, so two of us carried on inland, the others covering the road.
Both groups noticed (an attempt at) a holloa and pointing, followed by the group on the road radioing through that a fox was heading straight for the others. We were in a perfect position to act as the fox ran past, spraying citronella and rating the hounds, giving the tired fox valuable seconds to get away.
Mr Peters did not look best pleased when he next saw us, especially after we followed him into the land near to Home Farm (where the Cotswold Vale met a couple of weeks ago). Instead of having the police called on us (despite being on footpaths) like last time, we had a nice, short conversation with two of the people from the area who told us that the hunt “weren’t even supposed to be here” and said we were welcome to walk across the land as long as we didn’t damage anything. The hounds were soon gathered up and taken back to the road… where they picked up on another scent, losing it as one sab informed the others and they were able to get in the way of the hounds.
A short chat and a long hover by the junction of the road later and the hunt moved off again, all the boys (Luke, Danny, James and the other one) and, of course, Nick Hodges (terrierman from the Cotswold Vale) in tow. And Lee is always full of surprises – having made many phonecalls and had lots of little conflabs with his pals, a couple of the support vehicles blocking in our car repeatedly and a little bit of very-slightly-aggressive-but-not-that-scary riding at foot-sabs, the hunt headed back to the kennels earlier than anticipated.
As we write this, we are informed that the ever-charming Lee has been spotted outside of a well-known sab’s house, taking pictures of her… he had promised to do this (to “get his own back”) but not until summer. You’re a bit premature Lee! But at least we know he didn’t go back out after we left. Anyway, all in all a good day and not long left before even the Ross Harriers will pack up for the season.
If you can help us out in the last couple of weeks before they finish, share our reports and our gofundme (or paypal address if you’d prefer us to get more money!)
An independent scientific assessment of last year’s pilot badger culls in parts of Gloucestershire and Somerset has concluded that they were not effective.
Analysis commissioned by the government found the number of badgers killed fell well short of the target deemed necessary, the BBC understands.
And up to 18% of culled badgers took longer than five minutes to die, failing the test for humaneness.
The pilot culls were intended to limit the spread of TB in cattle.
They were carried out to demonstrate the ability to combat bovine TB though a controlled reduction in the population of local badgers.
“We have always stated that if the pilots were to fail on humaneness then BVA could not support the wider roll out of the method of controlled shooting”
Robin Hargreaves, President, British Veterinary Association
Contracted marksmen, paid for by farming groups, were employed to shoot the animals at night.
The Independent Expert Panel was appointed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to help ministers evaluate the effectiveness, humaneness and safety of the Gloucestershire and Somerset pilots.
Prof Rosie Woodroffe, a scientist at the Zoological Society of London, said that the panel’s “findings show unequivocally that the culls were not effective and that they failed to meet the humaneness criteria.
“I hope this will lead to the Secretary of State (Owen Paterson) to focus on other ways of eradicating TB in cattle,” she told BBC News.
Robin Hargreaves, president of the British Veterinary Association (BVA), said it was the BVA that had taken a lead in calling for the controlled shooting to be tested and critically evaluated before it was rolled out.
“We are unable to comment in detail on the findings of the IEP until we have seen the report,” he told the BBC. “But if these figures are true then they would certainly raise concerns about both the humaneness and efficacy of controlled shooting.
“We have always stated that if the pilots were to fail on humaneness then BVA could not support the wider roll out of the method of controlled shooting.”
The pilots were authorised by Defra and licensed by Natural England.
Please contact the pub where the hunt met and give them your “polite” view on them allowing a foxhunt to meet at their premises.
“We sabbed the Croome today from their meet at the Wheelbarrow Castle pub at Radford (thanks to the person who gave us the info). They spent half an hour before moving off whether because sabs were present or because it was a pub is unclear but they messed about a bit prior to hunting around some brambles at a farm in Kington.
The huntsman called hounds out of cover as it was obvious that they were hunting no trail, the fox was left be. On they went to Abberton where first one fox ran (and was helped by a quick witted sab who sprayed the line).
A very cross man ran over the field but was not too dangerous when he confronted the sab as he was so out of breath, he grabbed the spray and broke the top off emptying some of the contents just where they were needed! The second fox then followed his mate to safety filmed on 3 cameras and so far too risky for them to hunt so close to a village.
They left those to. On the hunt went into Yield wood where the senior master Patty Allen got a bit cross and they then rioted on deer. They actually did manage to hunt a fox with hounds going through a garden frightening some Alpacas but were stopped dead on the road by being rated by asab’.
Just as well really because amateur huntsman (and master) Tim Allen was frantically zooming up and down on a quad bike wondering where his pack had gone, the sab had safely rated them back into a field from the road where they were harmlessly following a heel line. Both Patty and Timmy were confronted politely about the illegal hunting and they said that they were hunting a trail with one girl claiming to have laid one.
It was pointed out that she had only got a cutting whip so had nothing to lay one with…then it was the vicars wife wot laid it….and she had gone home….conveniently. We believe despite an effort to find that fox they failed. Even at 16.20 they tried to draw for another and had a go at sabs for using a footpath to see what they were up to. All in all a good day.”
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.