Tewkesbury: No arrests made in badger cull zone
- Credit: PA
Anti-cull campaigners said they had more than 100 activists patrolling rural areas around Tewkesbury as it was thought the pilot badger cull was beginning.
No one was arrested as the police operation to patrol the Gloucestershire cull zone reached “full capacity” last night.
Yesterday, Gloucestershire Police said its response to the cull - called Operation Themis - was aimed at keeping “all our communities safe and feeling safe”.
“The badger cull is a Defra policy that is being implemented by private companies under licence by Natural England,” a spokeswoman said.
“Our role will to be operationally independent, impartial, even-handed and fair to everyone whatever their views, interest or involvement in the pilot scheme.”
They added: “There were no arrests overnight in relation to Operation Themis.”
People opposed to the cull have been expecting shooting to begin in west Gloucestershire since the pilot in west Somerset got under way last week.
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The controversial pilots aims to tackle tuberculosis in cattle by killing around 5,000 badgers over a six-week period.
The culls aim to assess if culling can be done effectively, safely and humanely, with plans to roll out the scheme more widely in areas that are hotspots for TB in cattle.
Farmers and the Government insist culling of badgers, which can spread TB to cattle, is needed to stop spiralling rates of the disease in herds.
But opponents say culling the protected animal will have only a small effect on infection rates in cattle and will lead to badgers suffering.
They want the emphasis to be on vaccines and tighter on-farm and cattle movement measures.
Last night Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting organised various wounded badger patrols and used public footpaths to look for any injured animals in the Eldersfield area of the county.
Mark Jones, veterinarian and executive director for the Humane Society International UK, was also on the rounds to care for any wounded badgers.
Stop the Cull went on their own patrols to look out for possible signs of shooting, with We are Change Gloucestershire supporting the former.
Mark Jones, a Gloucestershire-based vet and UK director of Humane Society International, joined around 40 people taking part in a patrol looking for wounded badgers.
Mr Jones said: “We are deeply saddened that this unjustified and unscientific badger cull has now come to Gloucestershire.
“The Secretary of State Mr Paterson was quoted this week as saying that ‘everything is going according to plan’.
“But what we hear from the ground in Somerset is talk of chaos, confusion and carnage.
“I have no doubt that many thousands of badgers are now set to suffer in the county I call home, for the sake of a policy that has no scientific basis, will at best make a marginal difference to TB in cattle, and which could very well make things worse.
“I was proud to join last night’s Wounded Badger Patrol.
“These are ordinary, law-abiding people who are concerned at what’s going on in their countryside, and wish to express their concern by legal and peaceful means.
“In doing so, they represent the concerns of many thousands of ordinary folk across the west country and beyond.
“The Gloucestershire and West Mercia police were also out in force, and while they were civil and friendly, they did insist on filming us as we were going about our business, which seemed entirely unnecessary and made some people feel uncomfortable.”
The RSPCA said it had grave concerns that the methods used to kill the badgers in the two cull zones were not humane.
Charity chief executive Gavin Grant said: “We have real doubts about how humane the methods being used to kill the badgers are - and it is very possible that many of these iconic British mammals could be suffering, seriously injured, rather than killed.
“Consequently, we are paying very close attention to the way the cull is being conducted and will investigate any reports of breaches of the licence where badgers suffer.
“We also fear that some may take the law into their own hands by killing badgers under the cover of the cull.
“This is a criminal offence and we will work with the police to bring such individuals to justice.”