At lunchtime on the 29th of November a moment in history was
created when the guardian released this story (see below). Telling the world
that finally the British government had been beaten into submission and called
an early end to its wildlife massacre it called a “badger cull”.
The cull was always sold to the British public as a pilot to see if over a
period of 6 weeks, badgers could be killed “effectively, safely & humanely”.
Toward the end of those 6 weeks we the public were told that the original
population studies had changed and the new population figures were actually much
lower, they refused to credit us the sabs with destroying their Hair DNA
population studies and instead decided to blame badgers for “moving the
goalposts”. With massively reduced populations (strangely David Heath had been
complaining along with many farmers of population “explosions”) the target to
kill was made much easier for them to reach.
What they hadn’t planned on was the perseverance, tenacity, endurance &
craftiness of those opposed to the cull. Many experienced hunt saboteurs walked
the fields and woodlands of the cull zones night after night, as did many other
people, these people just like sabs came from a wide variety of backgrounds,
teachers, graphic designers, care workers, the very rich, the retired and yes
even the unemployed and students. A dedicated number of these people before the
culls started, going as far back as June last year had been sett surveying the
entire area, one of them “Jo Badger” recently passed away, her passing has been
a great loss to many of us. Their work was the foundation for all the defence of
the badgers during the cull & it is these people who know how active setts are
in certain areas, finding the Hair DNA traps was an easy task for them.
With a total of over 500 sq Km’s surveyed, protecting the badgers from free
shooters was a question of team work, whilst some people working tirelessly
within the law traversed hundreds of miles of footpaths and reported in any
sightings, Sab groups and people prepared to break minor trespass laws got
closer to shooters and often moved them on with noise. Several weeks into the
cull a small fortune was spent on night vision equipment and the amount of
shooters being stopped increased rapidly. That equipment like the fuel in the
tanks was generously donated by supporters from across the country, without
their support the campaign would have struggled greatly and we would like to
take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped with fundraising to get
people to the zones.
When the 6 week culls ended and it was announced in Somerset that they hadn’t
achieved their targets we sighed with relief & prepared to focus just on
Gloucestershire for the final week, to our dismay they announced extensions, in
Somerset with the drastically reduced populations they announced that they had
to kill another 165 badgers over a three week period. Having managed to kill
over 100 a week during the 6 week cull people on the ground knew they had a lot
of work to do to stop them reaching their targets. With little or no holiday
time left to claim many people took unpaid leave from work, relationships were
strained and many people were suffering with extreme fatigue. Still they did not
give up, with the weight of knowing that the culls would be rolled out if these
succeeded, people buckled down to the work knowing that tens of thousands of
badgers lives were in the balance. At the end of the 3 week extension 90 badgers
had been killed, making the Somerset cull and extension a failure.
The shooters having failed at free shooting early on had gone over heavily to
cage trapping as a tried and tested method of killing large numbers of badgers,
when we knew this for sure, our efforts accordingly varied and we focussed as
much resources as possible at finding cage traps and “neutralising” them. In
Somerset we never found more than 3 cages on one sett. Meanwhile in
Gloucestershire the figures on the total killed came out, it was shockingly low
at only 30% of the revised pop. figure, Natural England issued an extension for
8 weeks with a target of just 58% to achieve “disease control” the NFU didn’t
mess about and promptly put down hundreds of traps.
Protest culture has for some years attributed minor criminal damage done at
night to “pixies”. Some people find this word annoying, just as other people
don’t identify with the word “sab”. Semantics to one side, the cage traps were
destroyed as fast as they went down, for the most part by very normal people
doing extraordinary work, through the day traps were found then by night they
were destroyed, each one costing approx £150. In just over 4 weeks nearly 400 of
these traps had been made useless. With “free shooting” being proven to be a
methodology that didn’t work, cage trapping was undertaken to kill as many
badgers as possible. We the British public just weren’t having it.
Whilst we celebrate the failure of these badger culls and the part we played in
their downfall, we mourn the loss of all the badgers that have been needlessly
killed during this cull. We would ask anyone who thinks that killing badgers to
stop the spread of bTB to spend a few minutes watching this video filmed just
before the culls started.
We will continue with our campaign, filming farm conditions, sabbing pheasant
shoots, organising boycotts, all the time building our numbers and reach on
social media. The culls may continue, but so will we.
As has been proven today, if you ignore the will of the people, the people will
fight back, we are organised, we have built teams of people who rely on each
other, our supporters know the methods we use and are comfortable knowing that
we behave honourably, we know how to disrupt culls, we are strong and we are
many, and we will never leave our badgers undefended to be attacked by brutes
Pilot cull to end earlier than planned after Natural England revokes licence
over failure to meet greatly reduced targets
The controversial badger cull in Gloucestershire is being
abandoned after marksmen failed to kill enough animals to meet even drastically
reduced targets, the Guardian revealed on Friday.
The collapse of the culling trial represents a humiliation for the government's
policy as it means every target set has now been missed.
Natural England (NE) will revoke the culling licence and the cull will end at
noon on Saturday, three weeks earlier than planned. The cull, intended to help
curb tuberculosis in cattle, was initially tasked with killing 70% of all
badgers in the area in a maximum of six weeks.
But just 30% were killed in that time, leading to an eight-week extension that
was granted against the advice of the lead scientist on NE's board.
A revised target of 58% was set but shooters have failed to kill enough badgers
on any night and several night saw no kills at all. The extended cull was due to
end on 18 December.
The environment secretary, Owen Paterson, said previously he wanted to roll out
the culls across the country, but will have to wait for the verdict of an
independent panel of experts. The panel – which will judge whether the culls
have been effective, safe and humane – said it would only consider the initial
six-week periods of shooting in Gloucestershire and the other pilot cull in
Somerset. Both areas failed to meet the target of killing 70% of badgers in the
Farming minister George Eustice said: "The extension to the cull has been
worthwhile and has removed a significant number of badgers which will make a
difference to disease control in the area. Let's not forget that more than
305,000 cattle have been slaughtered in Great Britain in the past decade due to
this terrible disease, which is why we are doing everything we can to get it
Anti-cull campaigners called the cull a "fiasco" and a "shambles". Mark Jones,
Gloucestershire vet and executive director of Humane Society International-UK
said: "I am much relieved the government's badger cull fiasco is finally over,
for the time being at least. We hope the government will now do the decent thing
and admit that killing badgers to control TB in cattle is a ludicrous and
Brian May, musician and founder of Save Me, said: "Now that the failure of this
whole shameful badger cull shambles can be seen so clearly seen, in spite of
many moves of the goalposts, it must be time to abandon the concept, and get on
with the only strategy which can ultimately succeed in eradication of bovine TB
The pilot culls were testing whether shooting free-running badgers at night
could kill sufficient numbers of the animal to reduce TB in cattle herds. An
earlier, decade-long trial found that culling could after four years curb TB
infections by about 16%, but it used the more expensive method of trapping the
badgers in cages before shooting them. Those culls were also carried out quickly
– within eight to 11 days – and experts have warned repeatedly that the much
longer and less effective current pilots risk actually increasing TB, as fleeing
badgers spread the disease more widely, an effect called perturbation. The
scientists behind the decade-long trial have called the cull "mindless" and a
Peter Kendall, president of the National Farmers Union, which represents the
culling companies, said he supported the decision to end cull. He added: "It is
thanks to the professionalism and organisation of the farmers, landowners and
contractors on the ground that the operations have been carried out safely and
humanely despite intense provocation and intimidation by some anti-cull
protesters. The NFU remains committed to supporting wider roll out to help
prevent the spread of this terrible disease."
Dominic Dyer, at Care for the Wild, said a protest against the cull in Bristol
on Saturday would now turn into a celebration. "We've already learned lessons
about culling – that it doesn't work. And we know that there is another way – an
improved cattle management system, in conjunction with volunteer-led badger
vaccination," he said.
The RSPCA's David Bowles, said: "The pilot culls have failed in every aspect.
Badgers have been needlessly killed and this could well have made the problems
of bovine TB in cattle worse not better in these areas because of the
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