The badger cull has got off to a slow start because of successful disruption by protesters, a leaked note seen by the Guardian has revealed.
According to the letter sent to farmers in Gloucestershire, one of the two cull areas, the activists have caused the cull to fall behind schedule.
Signed by directors of the company Gloscon, which is licensed to carry out the cull in Gloucestershire, and dated last week, the letter says the disruption is proving “quite significant” and adds: “We are not achieving planned numbers.”
It says the bright moonlit nights at the start of the cull did not help but makes it clear the protesters are the biggest “headache” and asks farmers to pass on any intelligence about activists and their tactics. The note goes on to reveal that another training course had been run for shooting contractors to get more marksmen and women on the ground.
The National Farmers’ Union (NFU), which speaks on behalf of Gloscon, refused to comment on the letter, explaining that its policy was not to comment on “operational matters” during the cull. But the slow start will worry the NFU and the government, both of whom argue that the cull is a necessary measure to tackle bovine TB in cattle.
Last year’s cull was widely seen as a failure partly because marksmen were unable to kill the minimum number of badgers stipulated.
The concerns raised in the leaked note will be celebrated by the activists, who have added heat-detecting sensors to their armoury this year to help them pick out cullers in the pitch black. Meanwhile, the discovery of a badger shot in the abdomen in Somerset shows the animals are suffering cruel deaths, campaigners claimed. The female was discovered by an anti-cull patrol and taken to the Secret World wildlife rescue centre.
According to the campaigners, vets confirmed the badger had been shot in the abdomen, not the target chest area which can deliver a quick kill, and the animal most likely died slowly of her injuries.
Mark Jones, vet and executive director at Humane Society International/UK, said: “The discovery of [the female badger] confirms our worst fears about the horrendous animal suffering the so-called trained badger cull marksmen will be inflicting.
“Shooting badgers in the abdomen will likely result in those animals taking a considerable time to die. Defra’s [Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affaris] assurances that steps have been taken to ensure this year’s culls would be humane have been shown to be meaningless.”
Dominic Dyer, of the Badger Trust and Care for the Wild, said: “The government assured us that the badger cull would be carried out more humanely this year, but within a week of it starting here’s a badger that has clearly suffered.
“The bullet missed its vital organs so it would have taken several minutes to die. This is appalling, it’s cruel and it’s unacceptable. How many more badgers are there dying in the same way, without ever being found?”
An NFU spokesman said: “There is no evidence that this badger died as part of the cull. We would suggest that it is handed over to the proper authorities in order that they can do a post-mortem examination to determine the cause of death. All badgers shot as part of the cull have been accounted for.”
Article taken from: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/23/protest-badger-cull-farmers-gloucestershire
Related post: https://catdraggedin.co.uk/2014/09/11/ministers-reject-claims-somerset-and-gloucestershire-badger-cull-lacks-scientific-rigour/
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