Shotguns, rifles and the badger cull

Shooter holding shotgun

In 2014, John Lowe fatally shot his partner and daughter in Surrey. In April 2016, the Independent Police Crime Commission ruled that Surrey Police had failed to consider and properly assess information relating to Lowe before returning his firearms.

Bearing in mind that the badger cull will be extended to new areas this year, it is worrying that the police watchdog also found the force’s firearms licensing team lacked training and was staffed by people failing to do their duties properly.

This is not an isolated incident. Those monitoring the cull have reported breaches of the Firearms Act to the Police on numerous occasions and it’s worth continuing to pursue this option. It is a serious breach of the Firearms Act to use guns and live ammunition to intimidate and threaten innocent parties in any way. Live firing on or across footpaths and public highways is also a breach.  During transport, guns must be concealed in the vehicle and not on view.

In any incident involving a gun, notify the police by dialing 999 and immediately inform the operator that a firearm is compromising your personal safety.

More information…

 

Badger cull start date

During the last three years, cull operatives have started killing badgers in the cull zones towards the end of August so we assume this will be the start date for 2016’s cull. To keep up to date, join your local group.

It’s unlikely that there will be any formal advance notice since the Government and cull companies want to keep the culls as secret as possible. This, despite the recent judgement that urged the Government to be more transparent. After all, it is OUR badgers who, unfortunately, live on other people’s land.

Unfortunately despite increasing condemnation from animal welfare groups, conservationists, leading scientists and many members of the public, the Government appears to be bowing to the pressure from the farming industry to roll the cull out into Cornwall, Devon, North Cotswolds and Herefordshire.

Since 2011, those protecting badgers from a ‘crazy’ Government policy of culling have done an amazing job in raising public awareness, keeping the issue alive in both the national and local media, and going out into the zones to monitor and bear witness to what Natural England calls an ‘unprecedented’ attack on native British wildlife in modern times.

It’s important to bear in mind that there is no badger culling allowed on RSPB, Wildlife Trust, Woodland Trust or National Trust (or their tenants’) land, and there will be many non-participating landholdings within each cull zone.

So, if you find an armed person out and about trying to kill badgers either night or day, they may well be committing armed trespass and that’s a criminal offence. Our advice is to ring 999 to report them and to let your local badger group know what’s going on as soon as possible.

Help needed in the cull zones right now!

YOUR help is needed URGENTLY in the cull zones – the killing will start within the next few weeks. There are various practical ways in which you can give your support – out in the field, at camp, sending supplies etc.

Everyone can play their part, regardless of age or ability. Training is provided.

2016 cull zones

Please get in touch with any of these groups now for a warm welcome and to see how YOU can help SAVE THE LIVES OF BADGERS in the coming weeks:

DEVON & CORNWALL
Contact: Devon & Cornwall Against The Badger Cull

DORSET
Contact: Dorset Against The Badger Cull

NORTH COTSWOLD
Contact: North Cotswold Against The Cull or Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting

HEREFORDSHIRE
Contact: No Herefordshire Cull or Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting

GLOUCESTERSHIRE
Contact: Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting or Gloucestershire Badger Office

SOMERSET
Contact: Somerset Against The Badger Cull

 

If you don’t use Facebook, please contact us here at the Badger Action Network for alternative contact details.

 

 

The nitty-gritty behind TB testing badgers

Recently news surfaced via Network for Animals that Defra might be TB testing badger carcasses during this year’s cull. As often the case with all things to do with the Government’s badger cull, this is more confusing than it might seem. More than that, it could be a bad thing for badgers living where culls have been carried out in Dorset, Somerset and Gloucestershire.

Data from the Randomised Badger Cull Trial (RBCT) shows that TB rates in badgers increased during and after culling. By the fourth cull, in fact, the scientists concluded that the ‘prevalence of infection was approximately double that recorded on the initial cull’. So if Defra tests badgers in the cull zones this year – and yes, it’s the fourth year of culling – it’s not rocket science to guess what the results might be. There is a caveat, though. The culls haven’t been carried out adhering to RBCT methodology so the results could be different. And with no TB testing of badgers in previous years, there will be nothing to compare it to.

Going back to hard-won scientific data from the days of the RBCT, it’s noticeable that as TB in cattle rises, infection rates in badgers rise too. The clue is in the name – bovine tuberculosis. Reduce the rates in cattle with more effective cattle testing and controls and the rates drop in cattle, followed by the reduction of TB in badgers.

So it doesn’t seem to be a good thing to test badgers for bovine TB right now. Added to that, there’s also the thorny problem of finding out whether a badger that tests positive for TB is infected or infectious. There’s a world of difference between the two and, again looking back at the RBCT data, very few of the badgers that tested positive for TB were infectious.

Added to this, who is going to check that the badgers tested by Defra are randomised samples and how thorough will the testing be? Who, indeed, will carry out the testing?  And what if the badgers that test positive are actually carrying natural resistance to the disease?

So after the initial prevarication about testing badgers for TB at the start of all this, is Defra trying to reinvent the wheel or is there a hidden agenda? Seems that, once again, the Government isn’t as open and transparent on this issue as it could be.

So don’t forget our badgers need you more than ever before. Contact us to find out where your nearest local badger protection group is operating.

Festival-goers sign up to help protect badgers

Badger Action Network hit the ground running as their stall proved a massive success at VegFest Bristol 2016 over the weekend of 21 & 22 May. Leaflets outlining the travesty that is the Government’s badger cull policy were snapped up and over 300 people signed up to become part of the local grass roots organisations that are springing up all over the country. Able to build on the success of group actions in Gloucestershire, Dorset and Somerset, these local groups will also hit the ground at speed.

The national media may have lost interest, the farming industry and the Government may have hoped that opposition to their ‘crazy’ badger cull would grind to a halt, but the depth of feeling that we encountered against the badger cull shows that they are wrong. The opposition is growing stronger day by day as any rational person can see that the badger cull is wrong on so many levels.

So watch our VegFest video and pledge to be a badger hero today!

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BAN at VegFest Bristol 2016
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Queen of the May

As early summer sweeps over Britain, most people agree that May is a glorious time of the year. In some villages, it’s still a tradition to crown a May Queen, a gentle reminder of when, towards the end of April, the Romans would have paid tribute to Flora, the goddess of flowers. In May, badger cubs are growing fast, playing vigorously in and around their setts whilst their mums sniff the air for danger.

The presence of badgers in Britain pre-date the Roman conquest, the Druids, the Bronze Age and other ancient Britons by centuries. They were here long before rabbits, nettles and roe deer. The oldest recorded sett is in Cheddar Gorge and has been consistently inhabited by consecutive generations of badgers for some 30,000 years. Imagine the world they inhabited then. The most recent Ice Age was yet to come and Britain was still physically attached to mainland Europe and bears, elk, beavers and wolves would have been wandering through thick woods that stretched west to east almost without end.

Today, unlike Europe, Britain has few of these large mammal species left. So, in simple moral terms, one would have thought our native badgers would have been valued in their own right. Yet this Government is hell-bent on killing thousands of them in a morally unjustified and non-evidence-based policy. Quite simply, it is dirty politics driven by blind prejudice. But this is nothing new, so why should we give up our time to stand up for any animal and why badgers in particular?

Desmond Tutu, South African social rights activist and Anglican bishop, hit the nail on the head: “The matter of the abuse and cruelty we inflict on other animals has to fight for our attention in what sometimes seems an already overfull moral agenda. It is vital, however, that these instances of injustice not be overlooked”.

And why badgers? The badger cull is an attack on a native mammal that is without precedent in any country in modern times. As such, we shouldn’t – and can’t – stand by and watch from the sidelines. It is our wildlife, our natural heritage that is about to be decimated for no good reason at all.

As the 21st century unfolds, we need to reclaim our wildlife. Our woods, despite the fabulous shimmer of dark blue bluebells, would be sadly impoverished without the subtle presence of badgers. Likewise, our hedgerows, even though they’re thick with the overriding scent of hawthorn, the blossom of May, would be much the worse if they weren’t well trodden highways for generations of badgers

Right now, few direct actions have involved so many people from all walks of life for such a sustained time. The Badger Action Network is here to help both individuals and groups continue to protect the real Queen of the May – Meles meles – our native badger. Have a look around the website and please make a pledge right now to do everything you can to help protect our British badgers. Good luck!

 

Take action!

Farmers have submitted expressions of interest for badger culling in nine counties in England. The Badger Action Network is resource hub for those wishing to take action against the badger cull.

As a group of individuals with extensive, grassroots experience of protecting badgers against the culls in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Dorset, we have built up a range of tried and tested procedures over the last 3 years that we can share with those in new areas facing the culls for the first time.

Everyone can play their part, whatever your age or ability.

If you’re an individual wanting to know how you can help badgers, we can put you in touch with a group in your local area.

If you’re a group just starting out, we’ll send you an information pack and provide support.

Please explore the site and we hope you’ll find it an inspirational starting point to defending badgers in your area.