Brian adds as comment to this article …
Of course the war is not with the farmers – the war is with bovine TB. And what the Government is doing is likely to make things worse for farmers – see the new Rosie Woodroofe article at theconversatiom.com.
Time to stop wasting the tax-payers money on window dressing – a cull that has already failed miserably – and get serious about eradicating bTB at source – in cattle farming, and ensure the future health of cows AND badgers by vaccination. See also the BACVI website. – Brian May
9 September 2014
by Ben Webster Environment Editor
Poor marksmanship had increased the risk of badgers dying slow and painful deaths,
a report found. Adrian Sherratt/The Times
Protesters will use night-vision goggles and heat-seeking equipment to disrupt plans to shoot at least 900 badgers in the next six weeks.
Anti-cull groups have spent about £50,000 on specialist equipment that they hope will make it easier for them to spot marksmen operating at night on farms, and also help them find badgers trapped in cages. The Badger Trust said that the equipment, funded by donations, was similar to that being used by the marksmen to kill badgers in Somerset and Gloucestershire and would give the protesters a greater chance of saving some of the animals.
The culls are expected to resume this week, with farmers having a licence to kill at least 615 badgers in Gloucestershire and 316 in Somerset. The government says that culling is necessary to reduce bovine tuberculosis, which resulted in more than 26,000 cattle being slaughtered last year.
The trust points to a report by an independent panel of experts on the first year of culling, which found that poor marksmanship had increased the risk of badgers dying slow and painful deaths. Dominic Dyer, the trust’s chief executive, said the night-vision goggles and heat-seeking equipment would help protesters find wounded badgers.
“It’s going to be a bit of a technology war down there. This equipment will also make it more difficult for the contractors to operate in darkness because the protesters will be able to spot them.
“If badgers have been trapped in cages, people will find them and let them out before they can be shot.”
Mr Dyer said that about 500 people would be involved in “active disruption” and hundreds more would be “walking the lanes in peaceful protests”.
He said that cage-trapping was likely to be used more frequently now because the culling contractors had found it difficult last year to kill enough badgers through “free shooting”.
A farmer said yesterday that his herd had been declared TB-free for the first time in more than a decade after 92 badgers were shot during last year’s cull on his 500-acre farm. The farmer, identified only as “James” on BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today, said: “In the last 12 months not much has changed — the [cattle] are all on the same diets and in the same buildings — except for this badger cull. I am not a great one for sticking a knife into the badger as the sole culprit, but it does seem rather coincidental perhaps that after taking 92 badgers off our farm, we now have gone clear [in TB tests].”
George Eustice, the farming minister, said there had been better training of marksmen this year to help ensure badgers were killed instantly.
The independent panel, which criticised last year’s cull for failing to meet targets for humane treatment and effectiveness, will not be assessing this year’s cull. A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs said field observations would be made by Natural England.
The spokesman added: “We have a comprehensive strategy to make England TB-free, including strict cattle movement controls and badger vaccination. But overseas experience shows that we will not beat the disease without also culling badgers where the disease is rife.”