Posts Tagged ‘bTB’

This is without doubt the busiest time of year for anyone involved in the protection of our wildlife. The disgraceful badger cull is in full swing and the hunts around the country are attempting to train their hounds by killing fox cubs. This of course means that resources are stretched thinly and yet no matter what the challenge there will always be someone there to face the wildlife killers.

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Personally I’ve been over in the North Cotswolds badger killing zone. It’s bigger than the original Gloucestershire zone where it all started off and they have a huge target of badgers to kill, second only to the Devon zone. Any kind of target is however completely irrelevant in reality, they haven’t done any real population surveys and they have no idea what 70% of the population is so any targets that Defra set are, pretty much picked out of thin air. The claims by Defra and the NFU that this is a science led policy are of course complete nonsense, the NFU even admitted before the culls that it wouldn’t work. There is no monitoring of efficacy at all, the 6 week maximum cull time has been abandonded in the new zones (purely to allow the killers enough time to get their targets) and TB rates in all the original zones are on the increase.

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We need to be very clear here and my own experiences in the field only back this up. There is a wider issue at stake, a bigger picture that is being hidden by the smoke and mirrors of the bTB debate. It is the control of the countryside. The right of the landowning few to do what they want with the environment and the animals that live there regardless of protected status. Badgers are the first, we’ve seen now also Buzzards targeted and this is just the tip of the iceberg. The vast majority of areas where I and people like me have been active have been shooting estates or farms with shooting concerns. There are few cattle in sight but always plenty of game bird pens and they will be killing badgers and desperate to kill as many as they can.

On the positive side there have been many successes.

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Cage squashed by the forest pixies.

Social media means these travesties of justice can no longer be hidden. There are good people out there doing what they can and making a difference. Huge number of cage traps have been found and neutralised at a time where it is believed they are in short supply. Shooters have been identified and their killing lives put under constant threat of discovery. Hidden cameras have revealed the dirty secrets of the trappers and organisations that like to paint themselves as pillars of the community have been outed.  A prime example of this is the Overbury Estate where estate workers smashed the windscreen of a protesters vehicle. Stop the Cull published their details and their Facebook page was flooded with negative comments. The page admin then had to spend several hours deleting them. No matter how hard they try to hide the truth it will come out in the end. There is no justification for this and there never was.

If you’ve got a little time to spare please go to one of the areas and lend a hand. You could save a life, or even many. Drop me a line if you want to get involved in any capacity and I’ll point you in the right direction.

Thanks to TB Free England for some of the images.

 

The NFU’s badger eradication scheme has come to an end for another year. No doubt they’ll continue to be persecuted while no-one is looking and all those vigilant wildlife loving people out there will do their best to catch the perpetrators. How effective the cull has been is something being argued over as Lord Krebs rubbishes the NFU’s claims that TB is already dropping where the culls have taken place. The NFU in tern are doing their best to add some sort of positive spin on their claims however when you’re up against someone who’s basing their arguments on solid scientific facts with all the latest data then you need to come up with something good. All I’ll say is you’d have to be significantly challenged in the brain department to believe what the NFU say.

Perhaps that’s it. Farmers are just stupid?

Thing is I know that’s a flippant and somewhat sweeping remark but you’d have to be a moron to believe the nonsense they spout which can only leave me with the alternative and that the whole thing has nothing to do with TB. I’m of course repeating myself, seems like the thing to do in the NFU’s case. Liz Truss likes to say the same old thing over and over again even though her script has been soundly debunked. Like they say, repeat a lie often enough and it’ll become the truth. The only problem the NFU and Defra have is there’s plenty of well informed people out there who see through their lies. And remember, the trials weren’t designed to bring down TB, they were supposed to test free shooting as a method of population reduction, something which seems to be conveniently ignored. And judging by the piles of scrap metal that were once cage traps now festooning the countryside in the South West one wonders what exactly they’re up to. Trevor Cligg the NFU’s representative in Dorset suggested there was no major disruption to the cull. Having spent a large percentage of the last six weeks down there I’d suggest he’s misinformed.

Lord Krebs - NFU are big fat fibbers.

Lord Krebs – NFU are big fat fibbers.

From a personal standpoint I’m just happy to be able to get my own life back to some sort of normality. I’ve worked with some great people, dedicated and unwavering in the face of significant hostility. They’ve been from all sorts of backgrounds, with various outlooks and desires but the single unifying cause we all share is to do the right thing and take action for those that have no voice. I’m feel honoured to be included as one of them and salute each and every one who made an effort.

But there’s no rest for the wicked and the hunting season is now upon us so its time to move on and face the new challenges that await us.

Yup, it’s that time of year again when morons with inadequacy issues get their guns out and try to make themselves feel worthy by blasting poor old Brock in the face with a shotgun from point blank range in a cage or cracking open the .243 and pretending to be a sniper as they bang away at pre-determined bait points at an animal whose only crime is to be a protected species with a liking for peanuts.

I’ve written at length previously over the lunacy that is the badger cull and you’ll find me out in the fields day and night trying to save as many lives as possible in the time I have available. What still amazes me are the discussions regarding Bovine TB which is, the Government claim (or should that be NFU) the overriding justification that Badgers are being slaughtered in their hundreds. The evidence that Badgers are not to blame and the cull is a pointless, cruel and very expensive is so overwhelming that if I wrote it all down my fingers would be left as nothing more than bloody stumps on a mangled keyboard. The fact that Defra saw fit to justify extending the cull to Dorset only goes to prove what I’ve claimed all along.

This is a systematic species eradication program.

Defra also released details of their future plans for the licensing requirements. This plan would effectively make the Protection of Badgers Act pointless as anyone could pretty much kill Badgers when and how they liked. Remember, the trials are to see if free shooting is a viable method to kill badgers, not to see if killing them reduces TB (which it doesn’t as recent figures show TB rates in the cull zones and surrounding areas have gone up). The costs are astronomical, over £7000 per badger? To prove how desperate the NFU are to get this done they’re paying the killers a cool five grand a pop, I’d imagine you could get a fair few woolly shirts, flat caps and Barbour jackets with that lot, maybe even get a date with your more attractive cousin. They’re also offering half price insurance to those who allow the killing to take place on their land. A no brainer for someone who sees animals as commodities and wildlife is just something that gets in the way or perhaps something to have some sport with.

My usual stamping ground of Gloucestershire has been left in very capable hands and I’m please my comrades down there have had a lot of success in stopping the killing. I’ve been active in Dorset where they required some people with experienced in these matters and I was only too pleased to help out. Obviously there’s lots of work to do and we’re getting there but it seems the police are a little slow in the learning process. On the first year of the cull the police were over eager to say the least and spent loads of time harassing sabs and Wounded Badger Patrollers alike while supporting and escorting the killers. They learned their lesson and were much better and even handed in the second year so it was hoped these experiences would be passed along to the Dorset police.

I hoped wrong.

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They’re making all the same mistakes again, they’re acting like hired security for the NFU gunmen and constantly after intel on what we’re doing and who we are rather than sitting back and letting things happen and making sure everyone is safe. I’ve had shots being fired very close by already, it can be a bit unnerving but to be honest my only concern is saving the lives of Badgers and I’ll do what ever it takes to achieve those ends. We’re well organised and well equipped, we have night vision and thermal imagers and we know which farms have signed up. I’ve also got a fucking great big torch which makes me feel ever so macho!

What we really need more than anything is more people to get involved. The Government depend on apathy from the general public. Revolutions and change weren’t build on watching reality TV and supping tea in the comfort of your front room. If everyone who signed a petition went out just for one night the cull would be impossible to implement. If you’re reading this and thinking you can’t make a difference then think again.

You really can.

This is just the thin end of the wedge. It’s time to stand up and be counted for our wildlife while we still have something to fight for.

Fighting the cull uses a lot of fuel, please donate if you can. Click here.

So while we await any further updates on the continuation of the culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire and the legal challenge from the Badger Trust we’re left to ponder the news that no independent monitoring will take place if and when the guns start firing again. This information came to light during Parliamentary questions where Shadow Environment Minister, Maria Eagle challenged George Eustice on the subject.

“To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he plans to ask the Independent Expert Panel which recently reported on the first year of the pilot badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire to report on the second year of such culls”.

The response is simple and shocking.

“I have no plans to ask the Independent Expert Panel to report on the second year of the pilot badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire”. 

In light of the scathing report which came from the IEP and even with the lack of data they received I guess it should come as no surprise that the Government really don’t want to be told time and again that what they’re doing is, apart from hugely unpopular both inhumane and ineffective and that’s not even bringing the simple subject of cost into the equation.

Maria Eagles again: “What do the Tories do if they don’t like the independent scientific advice they get? Stop asking for advice”.

So where does this leave Owen Paterson and the Government?

Paterson with his chums at the CA

Paterson with his chums at the CA

They’re clearly in full retreat and searching for an exit strategy that allows them some sort of face saving exercise, however their masters in the NFU are still on the PR offensive and if the pathetic attempts both on social media and in the press are to be believed then the beleaguered Badger is responsible for the reduction in pretty much every native UK species and pot holes in the road too. This is of course complete nonsense; Hares, Hedgehogs and ground nesting birds are in serious decline but the reasons are simple, the industrialisation of modern farming methods means a lack of both food and suitable habitat for the birds and Hares while the combination of fenced gardens and slug pellets for Hedgehogs is very bad news. However this continued attempt to mislead the public shows that the NFU are still hell bent on removing Badgers from their land and will not let up on the pressure piled on Paterson now their justification which was Bovine TB has been shown to be solvable via other more environmental methods.

With the NFU and Countryside Alliance pressure on one side and pretty much all of the scientific community and Joe public on the other there is no way for Paterson to come out of this without being covered in the muck spread from his own bullshit machine. Even the BVA, an organisation deeply entrenched in the farming industry is starting to distance itself from the policy although as guardians of animal welfare they should jumped from that particular fence a long time ago. The decision to continue the pointless slaughter in the South West was clearly the best he could do in the circumstances. They realise that a further term in office is unlikely so claiming the wider roll-out has merely been delayed is either a show of unbelievable arrogance or an empty promise, one they’ll never have to fulfill. However while attempting to save face he’s just shown a complete lack of spine and pleased neither camp. He’s being criticized by the pro-cull lobby for not rolling out further and by the environmentalists and the public for not stopping it altogether. The man really is a weapons grade arse and the sooner he fades like a bad dream into history then the better for all concerned.

So what about the lack of monitoring?

A question via Twitter from Mr_TB Free with regards to this and the answer from Defra left us in no doubt there would be trouble ahead.

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I almost coughed up my cup of tea when reading that one. From the outset last autumn it was clear the license conditions were being openly flouted unless an independent monitor was present and now further information has come to light that the NFU instructed its contractors to ignore the best practice guidelines in the effort to kill more animals with complete disregard for the safety of both themselves, the protesters in the field and the welfare of the animals being targeted. Now, further down the line it seems a green light has been given to kill in any means possible with no apparent repercussions. The possible nightmare of free roaming Badger killers shooting wildly at night makes the potential for conflict with protesters, accidents or even worse extremely high. There is no way the police will be able to keep control of the situation regardless of the number of officers they deploy. With contractors just as eager to avoid contact with the police as the sabs I have no doubt this whole situation will be a recipe for disaster.

We can only hope this whole messy situation doesn’t get that far but at least (if you’ve been reading this blog) you’ll be prepared if it does. See you in the fields.