Posts Tagged ‘Somerset’

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.

help wanted

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.

Well at least I hope it’s the last time.

The NFU and cull companies could yet apply for an extension and if they do the badger army will yet again be out there to meet them head on in the fields. However the current situation is the cull will end at midday on the 20th October. At the time of writing Natural England have received no application for an extension.

The NFU have already started their propaganda machine and are already claiming success but any such claims are nothing but smoke and mirrors. With no independent monitoring, completely random population estimates and kill figures they pulled from their backsides they can claim anything they like and any person with an ounce of sense will see it for what it really is . . . complete bullsh*t.

For my own part it was a relatively quiet last trip into the zone, albeit a very wet and muddy one. The previous evening saw the same shooters we had stopped twice before return to the same location although this time the sabs on scene had some help. The access road the killers had been using and where the farmer had been hiding behind the dustbins wasn’t actually theirs to use. The owner of the access road, unaware of the dramas that were regularly unfolding outside in the evenings finally noticed the torches, vehicles and men with guns. Her actions were outstanding, she took it upon herself to personally get involved and help the sabs to remove the shooters, then deny them her access road and also grant permission to the sabs (to all her land) protecting the badgers who had made their home on her driveway. This wonderful woman also provided useful intelligence and tempted the badgers away from the killing field to other safer areas with tasty titbits. It’s heartening to know there are still good, compassionate people out there.

My night had little action, apart from a very stroppy local woman who seemed intent on causing a problem because we looked suspicious. Next time I’d suggest you take your child home before confronting people in the street and causing a scene and remember, we may not fit with your idea of normal but when we’re on a public highway, regardless of the time of day/night or the weather we really don’t have to explains ourselves to you and threatening us really isn’t a terribly bright thing to do. Nice example to set your child.

Wildlife not Vermin

I truly hope this will be the last of it and we can all get back to some kind of normality, whatever that is. The organisation and teamwork has been amazing. From the teams back at base coordinating to the active sabs in the field and those at home helping to fund their activities. People from all over the country and from all walks of life have come together and fought against an unjust, unethical, immoral and unscientific slaughter of our wildlife. We have shown what can be done and I’m in awe of those who did those hard yards in tough conditions. Let’s make sure it never happens again and let’s vote these self-serving, corporate driven and corrupt ar*ehols out of power. When the time comes to put your X on the ballot paper remember the screams of the shot and dying badgers, remember the smiling people on horseback chasing foxes to their savage end and remember the stags and hares run to exhaustion then brutally killed for the perverse pleasure of a few.

Our natural heritage should be treasured and nurtured for future generations. It’s not there for the pleasure of the few to be tortured and killed. Let’s take back that right to see wild things free from persecution. I’ll be back of course with more updates and action against illegal hunting but in the meantime I’ll leave you with a post from the Beds & Bucks Hunt Sabs page on Facebook. It seemed very appropriate.

“Imagine the scene.

It’s the early hours and it’s wet, very wet. The rain is driving into your face making you miserable and the trees, now losing their leaves offer little protection from the elements.

You’ve been walking the woods, lanes and hills, slipping in the mud and tripping over brambles and tree roots in the dark. The only saving grace is the mild temperatures but this has made you sweat from your efforts. Your waterproofs have kept out most of the storm but now you’re stewing in your own sweat.

You’re completely alone in the dark, every sound, every chink of light or engine noise could be the arrival of men with guns. You’re waiting, silently, knowing that at any moment your situation could go from tired and uncomfortable to one of life and death. You continually search with your night vision looking for the tell tale sign of an infra-red illuminator.

Except you’re not alone.

Somewhere out there, are more of you. You can’t see them but you know they’re there. This is your strength.

A noise. Snuffling . . . some rummaging in the undergrowth. A beautiful badger trundles past. It stops, looks in your direction, sniffing the air briefly before going about it’s business, unmolested and natural, how it should be. It makes you smile as the rain drips from your nose.

This is why we’re here. While there are those who take delight in killing or just doing the bidding of those with a corrupt agenda we’ll be there to meet them.

This is the life of a badger cull sab and no matter how long it goes on, we will never give up.”

UPDATE: Latest news suggests that they killed 253 badgers in Gloucestershire, well below their minimum target of 615. It is also believed they met their targets in Somerset however these were set very low (316) in the first place so were obviously more achievable. All these lives lost are deeply regrettable however without the fine work by those in the fields the death toll would have been much higher.

I’ll apologise for being a little quiet lately. It’s been a busy time and sometimes it can be a little overwhelming taking everything in and organising your thoughts. I’ve been out of the country for a short while helping a friend celebrate his wedding. I wish him and his new wife the very best although I have little doubt their life together will be a success. However whilst away I couldn’t help but stay linked to my various information sources and getting all the updates I could on how things were going in the cull zones. I was supposed to be relaxing and celebrating however in reality I was counting down the days until I could get back home and back to the killing fields and make my own small contribution to saving our wildlife.

I returned to Gloucestershire last week.

It’s seems a strange situation. There are no doubt still people out there with guns and cages desperate to make a dent in the badger population but in general things seem much quieter than they did last year. There does seem to be a lower number of shooters and from all the information received so far it would transpire that their kill rate is far lower than they anticipated and they’re falling well behind schedule already. This will of course be of some concern to the NFU and the cull companies and they’ll no doubt try and redress this balance by drafting in more guns. However with the increased organisation and modern equipment we’re deploying we’re never going to make the situation easy for them. So far various groups have successfully foiled multiple shooting attempts and cages have been neutralised.

The police have maintained a relatively low presence and so far there have only been a few cases of bad policing and favouritism however as the time draws on and tensions become strained I have no doubt this will change.

For my own part my last visit was fairly quiet save a few interesting incidents. During a daytime sett check we found a baited sett. The bait was removed and rendered inedible by answering the call of nature over it, always an effective method for dissuading badgers they’re getting some free chow. Luckily this particular location is well monitored and those evening monitors are well informed so hopefully the badgers will stay safe.

bones

The Bone Yard

It’s always interesting to note the state of some of the farms. Sheep were noted to severely lame, water troughs filled with all sorts of algae and clearly not suitable to drink from by either man or beast and a bone yard discovered in an out of the way place where the farmer, rather than dispose of animal corpses in the correct manner had dumped them out of site to rot. This site also had a large badger sett and no doubt the badgers would have scavenged the remains. There must have been in excess of 30 sheep skulls plus more bones than I could count. Another fine example of how our guardians of the countryside chose to conduct their affairs.

The final incident of the evening occurred when guarding a sett in the Upleadon area. A 4×4 driving through a field is a sure sign of shooter activity however on this occasion it turned out to be alleged local sex pest and wannabe hard man Hedley Midwinter, better known as “Mullet Man”. For those of you who don’t know him Hedley is well known in the area for intimidating lone female activists by suggesting hugely offensive and sexual solutions to their problems. I’d imagine he’s a somewhat twisted individual with limited intelligence who likes to act as some kind of enforcer for the cull company. There are several outstanding incidents from last years cull which are still to be addressed by the police including one where he drove at a wounded badger patroller who had to dive for her life. However this latest incident saw him drive round the field a couple of times, uttering some monosyllabic nonsense in our direction before retreating with his tail between his legs once he knew we had identified him and we wouldn’t back down. He runs Midwinter Transport, and owns a farm heavily involved in the cull so perhaps give him a call and ask him how he thinks things are going but please don’t put his number into one of those request call back things you find on Google.

Hedley

Hedley Midwinter – Such a charmer!

I’ll be back in the zone for a few more days next week so more updates will follow then. To all of those doing the remarkable work, the long hours and the hard yards both in Somerset and Gloucestershire I salute you. All those who can’t get down there, keep sending in the donations. To all those with guns – we’re waiting for you.