Dark days are approaching for badgers. Since the government gave the go-ahead to a trial cull in an attempt to protect cattle from bovine TB, up to 100,000 badgers could be shot. Trained marksmen are preparing for the cull, which will involve using bait to lure the creatures out of their setts before shooting them.
Yet subversive forces are never far afield. “Jay”, spokesperson for the Bristol-based animal rights group Stop the Cull, explains that since badgers are easily disturbed, noise and lights should send them safely back underground. Likewise, if they come across any people, the marksmen are legally required to break (i.e., disarm) their rifles.
Police in Gloucestershire and Somerset, where the first culls are due to take place, warn that disrupting licensed culling could lead to a charge of aggravated trespass. “In farms with licences we will not disrupt the cull,” says Jay, “but we will make sure it proceeds legally. We will wear hi-vis jackets, use very bright torches to film, and vuvuzelas to make sure shooters know we’re there and we’re not shot.”
Dismantling any snares would be a serious offence, says Jay. “It used to be done with bolt-cutters but it can actually be done with boulders, which means you’re not walking around the countryside with anything that can get you done by the police.” Bait points, meanwhile, can be “neutralised” by peeing on them, as badgers hate the smell.
Yet Lee Moon of the Hunt Saboteurs Association says that the sheer volume of people preparing to go out in opposition to the cull – hundreds are expected – should be enough. “I think we’re going to be successful,” he says. “This is not rocket science.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2012
[“A Badger In The Grass” on Shutterstock]