Posts Tagged ‘Gloucestershire’

I’m back home once again after another few days in the North Cotswolds cull zone. We have a team there 7 days a week, some are resident and some, like myself come and go, fitting in work and family commitments where they can, but there will always be cover both night and day. Most of us are experienced cull fighters and we’ve developed a really good system which allows us to maximize our efforts and concentrate on the areas which need us the most while monitoring the areas which would appear to be under less threat.

We’ve also had several new people join in and while it can seem a daunting task as first they are coming on leaps and bounds and will hopefully turn into fine sabs. It’s a steep learning curve but all you need is a strong desire to do what’s rights and the rest will usually follow.

Without going into operational details I will say that we are without doubt having a huge effect and it must annoy the hell out of the other side. What is clearly obvious is how new technology is being embraced and used to maximum effect. The videos emerging showing the trappers and shooters caught in their dirty act, the use of drones, radios, night vision and thermal imagers – never before have activist had access to this sort of technology and they are making it count and the other side are playing catch up. Of course all the tech in the world can’t make up for good old fashioned leg work, field craft and experience. Sometimes nothing more than a hunch will provide dividends and lives are saved.

We also accept that there will be casualties.

We can’t be everywhere all the time, if we had thousands of people we could protect every sett in the zone but that isn’t the case and with Defra (or the NFU as they seem to dictate Government policy) abandoning the 6 week maximum duration for culling they will no doubt hit their ‘plucked from thin air’ targets. This kind of thing only goes to prove that disease control and cost are in no way relevant to this situation.

Speaking of cost there could be some good money to made out there collecting all the scrap metal in the form of flattened cages. Reports on social media from the various zones in the South West would suggest that cages are being found and destroyed in large numbers. Badgers are being found and released regularly, it’s a heart warming thing to witness. Back to the cost side of things Defra once again display their complete ineptitude by claiming they don’t know how much it costs to prepare & loan out the cage traps. Mr TBFree sent a FOI request and got the predictable whitewash as an answer in return. Read more about it here including the complete response from Defra.

If you want to be part of this please get in touch and I’ll point you in the right direction. There are jobs for everyone from cooks to stealth operatives and everything in between. More boots on the ground mean more lives saved and a big F*CK YOU to the wildlife abusers. We’re fighting a war for our countryside. Lets make sure there’ll be wild animals out there for the generations to come and not some barren wasteland, managed only for an elite few who get their perverted kicks by killing and abusing animals.

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.

 

As the NFU’s badger killing exercise draws into it’s final phase we’re reminded that the guidelines drawn up by Natural England are being constantly flouted by those doing the killing. Of course when there was an independent expert panel and monitoring taking place then one would hope that these bad practices would be kept to a minimum but of course the Government sacked the panel when they didn’t provided the kind of conclusion they were hoping for. This of course gave carte blanche to the cull contractors to break any rules they see fit to get their numbers killed however due to some great work in the fields by sabs fighting the cull in all the zones these examples have come to light in a big way, one even making the front page of a national newspaper and another video getting over 50,000 views on social media. We can only assume that these will be the tip of the iceberg.

Gloucestershire badger killer and member of the Ross Harriers Hunt.

Gloucestershire badger killer and member of the Ross Harriers Hunt.

Nottingham Hunt Saboteurs did a fine job in locating and identifying two killers although they had already killed a badger. The shooters had also failed to follow many of the bio-security measures outlined in the best practice guidelines issued by Natural England, notably that the body of the badger wasn’t double bagged but merely stuffed into the back of a rucksack while the cull contractor wasn’t wearing gloves when he handled the animal either. Obviously bio-security is a serious matter however the complete lack of it in the video shows again it’s nothing more than a random killing exercise, they just want the numbers and any relation to bTB is largely being ignored, or of course they know the badgers don’t have TB in the first place. It also wouldn’t surprise you to know both the shooters were identified as members of the Ross Harriers Hunt. Killing is a way of life for these people, it’s not “just a job” as they claim, they love it or they wouldn’t do it.

The second incident occurred when a mixed group of sabs located a badger in a cage trap in the Dorset Zone. This of course shouldn’t be that surprising (although why they need to cage trap when the pilots are about free shooting is another matter) however the most important factor here is the time of day it was discovered. Once again Natural England specify that traps should be inspected and any badger caught must be killed before midday. There are clearly welfare issues involved here and time spent in the trap should be minimised regardless of the final outcome. The time the badger was found in the trap was 2:45 pm. Potentially that animal could have been in there for well over 15 hours. It had certainly made a significant effort to dig it’s way out. Luckily this badger would live to fight another day and was safely released, somewhat stressed and no doubt in need of a drink but otherwise unharmed.

This one had a lucky escape. Note the trappers spade leaning against the fence.

This one had a lucky escape. Note the trappers spade leaning against the fence.

Natural England should be looking at this and at the very least suspending the licenses of the culling contractors involved and holding any payment. Personally I believe the cage trapper should be prosecuted under animal welfare laws as well. How the NFU and Defra (I think they’re one and the same now) can still claim what they’re doing is based on science is quite frankly complete buffoonery. They’re also conspicuous by their silence on these matters. Their arrogance in not even attempting any sort of damage limitation only serves to highlight what they think of the general public at large.

They’ve paid for a cull, they’ll kill what they can, in any way they can and to hell with the licensing.

Email Natural England and ask them if they’re going to enforce their own best practice guidelines: btb@naturalengland.org.uk

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It would seem that the killers have reached their minimum targets in Gloucestershire and Somerset. This was to be expected given the randomly selected and low numbers required however they are some way off in Dorset. The NFU will be pulling out the stops and sending their Gloucestershire killing teams to Dorset in an effort to bring the numbers up. We’ll be matching them with more personnel to hopefully neutralise their efforts. More people will always be welcome. Come and do your bit.

It’s national badger day today, it doesn’t feel like something to celebrate.

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.