Posts Tagged ‘Badger Cull’

Last week I returned from the SW of England for a short visit to the team we have stationed down there 24/7, conducting operations to save as many badgers lives as possible from the cruel and unnecessary badger cull, a policy signed off by the Government and Defra but driven by the NFU. Work and other commitments have meant my own involvement this year has been reduced however they are doing an amazing job, just like the many other groups in the other cull zones around the country. It’s long hours and tiring work and while we accept we’ll never be able to save all of the badgers they are making an impact and minimising the damage to the local populations.

Of course no cull coverage would be complete without the mention of policing. It would seem various forces have failed to learn from the mistakes made by forces who policed previous culls. There have been reports of overly biased policing and cull operators having direct links with the police. The video below shows a shooter team being caught red handed by the Underground Badger Syndicate and clearly on the phone to police. As you can see they weren’t particularly impressed and very keen to hide their identities.

There were reports in the media that the police were going to start using drones to monitor activists (see here). It would seem once again no expense is being spared and the general public will be picking up the cost. How they intend to deploy these drones remains to be seen, the topography, huge amount of land to be covered and changeable weather at this time of year may mean limited operational time but the fact the police are considering employing these big brother tactics is certainly of concern.

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Devon & Cornwall Police consider using a drone like this.

The biggest overreaction by police was recorded by Liverpool Hunt Sabs after they had located a badger killing team at work in Cheshire. Within seconds armed police arrived and treated them the same as they would armed terrorists while completely ignoring the men who were openly carrying firearms. This is of course pretty serious stuff and suggests the shooters had direct communications with an armed response unit who were prepared and trained to use lethal force, but had used the obvious lies given by the shooters as justification to treat the sabs as armed and hostile. The only people clearly carrying firearms walked away from the scene without being questioned, searched or treated in the same manner as the sabs who were manhandled and handcuffed and carrying nothing more threatening than a torch, a video camera and a thermal imaging scope. The video below speaks for itself.

The treatment of the sabs is clearly unacceptable and completely unnecessary. They were on the scene within 30 seconds and despite their claims to the contrary (they had come from a job in Macclesfield) it would appear to suggest that the police have an ARV assigned to cull duties. While firearms are clearly involved the only people carrying those firearms are those contracted to do the killing. Breaches of firearm licenses have been observed during previous culls with no action taken against those responsible and no anti cull activist has ever been arrested during a cull for firearm offences so one would expect a more reasonable response from the police considering the situation.

This was covered in the national press (see here) over the weekend and I’d been waiting for my own approval to publish prior to this after hearing about the incident direct from Liverpool Hunt Sabs. This kind of incident certainly needs publicising. Our countryside may seem like a green and pleasant land but truth be told there are a lot of people out there with a license to use firearms and they regularly kill our wildlife, with their actions largely going unseen. The same people are now involved in the culling of badgers and this has brought them into the spotlight, a place where they don’t want to be. Adding armed police to the mix who respond to the lies of the real killers is never going to be a good thing and serious questions need to be asked about their use. Whether we get any answers of course is another matter.

As you’ve probably guessed by now I’ve been away for a couple of weeks. I’ll get to that in a moment as it applies to what I’m going to quickly report on next.

So, the other morning I got a call from Suffolk Police. They explained that I had been positively identified and named at an incident which I can only assume involved a hunt in the Suffolk area and that I had been acting in an abusive manner and calling people paedophiles (this is somewhat ironic considering hunt types like to throw this kind of abuse at sabs all the time). The officer who spoke to me believed this information to be questionable as he’d spoken to me many times in the past and didn’t consider this something I would be guilty of, hence the direct phone call.

Now as far as alibi’s go I had a pretty good one. At the time of the call I was located in a small hamlet just to the north of Courtenay on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. That’s a little under 7,600 km from darkest Suffolk.

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Needless to sat the officer was satisfied with my response and we had a laugh at the ridiculousness of it all however it highlights that there is perhaps a more insidious purpose to the claims made against me. It’s fairly clear to me the purpose of this claim was the first attempt to discredit me as a witness prior to the prosecution trail of Chris Amatt and Archie Clifton-Brown, the huntsman and whipper inn respectively of the Thurlow Hunt based in Suffolk. Except of course they have now completely shot themselves in the foot as any further claims are likely to be treated with the contempt they deserve by the police. You would think that if you are going to try and stitch someone up you would at least make sure they were on the same continent first.

No doubt this will be the first shot in a dirty tricks campaign, something the Countryside Alliance are well known for and with a case they may not be confident in winning they will resort of less scrupulous tactics in order to get the result they desire.

In other news the never ending saga of the Fitzwilliam case rumbles on. The appeal by George Adams against his conviction earlier this year has been delayed again however this is just fine by me. It’s looking highly likely that by the time it goes to court the upcoming fox hunting season will be more or less over so it means we get to call them convicted criminals for a whole season.

Finally this time of year has to be the busiest in the wildlife protection calendar. Most hunts are now cubbing and the cruel and pointless badger cull has been extended even further, 150,000 badgers could be killed, leaving parts of the country devoid of this iconic species where they have existed for centuries just because the NFU want it that way. If you’ve even considered getting involved now would be the time, contact your local sab group for more information.

Donate here.

Now I’m fairly sure most people like to get good value for money. It’s a simple fact that paying over the odds for services or products is to be avoided, it’s simple economics and applies to the man on the street right up to the Government and their policies.

The Badger Cull in England has been a financial disaster alone and that’s completely ignoring the tragic waste of life and cruelty subjected to one of our most iconic species. With the expansion in culling these costs are only going to increase but current estimations are in the region of £50 million to the public purse, that’s a hell of a lot of money by any measure.

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Of course the National Farmers Union and their stooges at Defra will churn out the now fairly standard response of; “Bovine TB is the greatest animal health threat to the UK and costs taxpayers more than £100m each year” but that’s largely an irrelevant if the policy they support won’t work and the money is simply being wasted.

Of course we’ve known all this for some time and I’ve written about the cull at length before but the news story breaking this week was from a targeted cull which took place in Wales. For those that don’t know a targeted cull will only take place in a small area on farms which suffer consistent bTB breakdowns. Badgers will be trapped and tested on site for TB, those being found to be positive will be killed.

Now for those who agree that livestock should have a higher priority over wildlife (that’s not me by the way) this would seem to be a fairly logical solution. However once the results came in it came as somewhat as a shock in more than one way.

37 badgers trapped and tested. 5 tested positive and killed. Post-mortem tests showed only 1 of these was positive and none were actually infectious.

Total Costs: £383,112

That’s £76,6222 per non-infectious badger.

Now I’m no economist but that doesn’t look much like value for money to me.

Well known biologist and extremely clever person Rosie Woodroffe summed things up on her Twitter feed.

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Rubbish blood test indeed Rosie.

Not only was this utterly wasteful in terms of value (and life) it also showed the reality of bTB occurring in livestock and the role badgers play. However that didn’t stop the pro cull numpties from trying their luck.

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We’re not really sure how Bob here managed to come to that conclusion considering none were infectious and shows their desire to just kill badgers but he was suitably corrected by the real scientist.

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Game, set and match to Miss Woodroffe.

It’s no great leap of faith to suggest that similar figures could be applied to the 35,000 badgers already killed in England, over 30,000 would have been perfectly healthy and of those tested positive, none may have been infectious which once again means that £50 million already spent killing healthy badgers will do nothing in reducing bTB and is a complete waste of money.

Your money.

And the Government want to spend  more of your money on this cruel and pointless exercise, in fact they’ve already started. The best we can do is take the most effective form of action. Non-violent, direct action. It’s time to get involved. Contact your local sab group or check here for more info.

Note: We’re working very hard in surveying potential new culling zones and will be on the front line when the killing starts. If you can’t physically help please consider helping us with the costs. You can donate quickly and simple right here: Donate

Something a little different for this blog post.

Becoming involved in the protection of wildlife through direct action can be a big step. I remember my first sab quite clearly and well, the rest as they say is history but I thought it may be interesting to get a newbies perspective after their first year on the front line against the hunters. So here it is, over to Titch . . .

I write this guest piece for MoreThanJustBadgers to mark a personal anniversary. Last Saturday was a year to the day since I first sabbed a fox hunt with my local group.
Before then, I was sat comfortably in my bubble of naivety. I had voted in the general election of 2001 guided by the prospect of a Hunting Act, having seen it pass into law I had thought that was that. Not until the Hunt Saboteurs Association managed to get into my twitter feed at the end of 2016, did I realise any differently.

Within a fortnight I was joining up with associates in the cause of animal welfare, learning the ways and language of the hunt, as well as the real reason for keeping your distance from heavily set, self-appointed, amateur ‘stewards’ (I’d have written something far less polite – Ed).

Over this past year I have been privileged to have campaigned and taken part in direct action against fox hunts, mink hunts, wild bird shoots and badger culling. I’ve witnessed untold numbers of animals escape with their freedom under the watch of sabs, and I have also sadly seen the deaths of some unfortunate creatures too. I’ve worked with people from the length and breadth of the UK, as well as activists from Europe too.

I learned that being vegan alone was not enough. Simply not taking part, allows horrors to be committed against animals week in week out. Compassionate and thoughtful people are needed to take a stand, to prevent what acts of cruelty they can, and to shine a light on what they can’t.

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The sun sets on another successful sab.

During the year I have been punched, kicked, threatened with weapons, driven at by quads and various 4×4’s, informed that I am going to be arrested, beaten up or even killed. I’ve seen friends beaten, bloodied, whipped and even arrested. I’ve spent time in muddy fields and wading streams, as well as in police interview rooms giving statements. Hunt sabbing has been exhilarating, as well as at times dangerous, but ultimately always rewarding and worthwhile.

The one constant throughout my first year of activism has been the unwavering attitudes of hunters. Every week they assemble, 11am sharp wearing the same dated outfits and following the same tired routines. They profess to be continuing their tradition, but in reality this is a rut. An endless cycle of pretence and theatrics constructed to deny the advance of time and sensibility. The same tired clichés are heard, “we’re hunting within the law, you antis spray hounds with acid and pull children off horses”, and so on. After attending a shade under 40 hunts in my first year, I have not once witnessed a trail being laid.

Policing has been variable at best. With some notable exceptions, most police officers have been content to turn their back on any reports of illegality by organised hunts, in favour of preserving public order. Of course, from a police officer’s point of view, thirty smartly dressed people riding horses in a field is perfectly good ‘public order’. Hunt sabs turning up and making a scene immediately brings that precious public order into question and on go the blue lights.

Will I still be sabbing this time next year? Almost certainly so. In five years? It’s certainly a possibility given the speed of change this country. Any further that that only time, and the House of Commons and future governments, will tell . . .