Badgers: Animal lovers to patrol hunting zone




3 September 2013 by John Vidal

Hunt saboteurs prepare for night vigils to remove snares and bait put out by marksmen in Gloucestershire farm and parkland

Marksmen are targeting to kill 2,500 badgers in the second pilot cull in Gloucestershire. Photograph: Nigel Roddis/Reuters
Groups of animal lovers and hunt saboteurs are preparing to stop marksmen killing about 2,500 badgers in Gloucestershire over the next six weeks.

The second pilot cull, which is expected to start on Tuesday night over nearly 100sq miles of farm and parkland, comes a week after the first cull began in north Somerset.

Environment secretry Owen Paterson told MPs this week that the cull was “proceeding to plan and those involved are pleased with progress so far.” But no official information has emerged of the numbers of animals killed in the first week, or the humaness of the killings. Both Paterson and the government-appointed independent group of monitors have said they will give no details until the cull has ended. The National Farmers Union has consistently said that the cull is needed to prevent bovine TB spreading. The company running the Somerset cull has declined to comment.

Opposition groups said on Tuesday that the marksmen may be finding it harder than they expected to shoot the animals, which are by nature nervous and elusive. Saboteurs and others have claimed to be removing snares and bait put down by the hunters, as well as disturbing badgers in night-time walks near their setts.

“They are clearly killing badgers but the fact that not a lot of wounded badgers have been found and that the shooters have been seen going along hedgerows with lamps suggests that they are not getting as many as they might have thought,” said Dominic Dyer, policy adviser at Care for the Wild International. “I think that the plan to shoot around 5,300 badgers in the two regions over six weeks was never going to work.”

“Killing a badger cleanly with a rifle or shot gun in the pitch dark, is extremely difficult and the chances of inflicting non-lethal injuries is high. Badgers could very well sustain excruciatingly painful bullet wounds, and those who retreat underground will die a slow and agonising death,” said Mark Jones, veterinarian and executive director for the Humane Society International UK.