September 8th marked the start of another season of Badger Culling, a practice deemed by most to be both unwanted and unnecessary. Last year’s pilot was an unmitigated disaster for the Government, whose attempts to appease dairy farmers and the NFU led to an eight week extension which still only resulted in 39% of the total number of badgers to be culled making the cut. This was a result of direct action in the killing fields of Gloucester and Somerset, where Hunt Sabs and a collection of badger enthusiasts organised effectively for months to fight for the rights of British wildlife to remain unanswerable to the whims of the Countryside Alliance.
However, despite the high cost of policing (£4000 per dead Badger), the need for an extension, the rise in badger populations after the cull and the complete lack of scientific evidence to suggest that badgers are the major contributor to the spread of Bovine TB in cattle populations, the Badger Cull has been given the go ahead to continue its proposed 4 year stint in Gloucester and Somerset once more. Plans to roll out the Cull across the country have been put on ice, for the time being.
The neighbours are jumpy, the setts are cordoned off and neatly marked footpaths have been fenced to insure that those pesky sabs stay within the boundaries of the Ordnance Survey, but then when has that ever stopped them? Working long into the early hours of the morning, often spending 17-20 hours in the fields in the Cull Zone, sabs have been tirelessly organising for another back-breaking 6 weeks.
Already they have seen shooters in the zone, some of whom are very young. In their late teens to early twenties, obvious hunt supporters, with a penchant for animal cruelty, the shooters came face to face with sabs on Thursday who successfully made enough noise to have them scarper. Photographing one of them, they could be heard shouting: ‘Shit! They’ve got my face on camera.’
Now, why, if you are partaking in a legal activity, protected by the police no less, would you be worried about the great unwashed having a still of your toothy mug? Could it be these people, often so proud to show their faces at fox hunts, know just how unpopular this cull is? With two thirds of people being against the Cull, we are presented with the undeniable evidence of its undemocratic nature. And this is why direct action is so important to stop it this time around.
The Badger Cull is an issue of the people and should not be relegated solely to the domain of Animal Rights. We know that badgers can spread TB. But we also know that vaccinating badgers is cheaper and more effective than shooting them. Except for these six weeks, badgers are a protected species. Otherwise, it is a criminal offence to interfere with a badger sett, something that is often necessary to bring a fox to ground in the equally illegal and continuous hunting of foxes across Britain by the self-imposed elite of police commissioners, magistrates, doctors and farmers. Instead of refusing to accept the abysmal conditions that dairy cows are forced to endure in farms such as Merrimans and Swan Tump, where the smell of slurry confronts you just harshly as the cries of pain from the large cattle herded into small fields and sheds, we have opted for a non-sequitur conclusion, all in the name of keeping the NFU firmly in a Tory stronghold.
This is not much different to a hunt. The tactics on both sides are not interchangeable, of course, but what the sabs and enthusiasts need is not just a single issue vegan brigade taking to the Cull Zones, but sedition from anybody who disagrees with the way they are being represented by a government who effectively came into power with a minority vote. Like any fox hunt, this is class warfare. This is taking back land from the hands of those who remind us that it is private property. This is reminding the Government that the shock therapy that they have implemented over the last few years is unacceptable, and that every small battle counts. Remember now that on all fronts this government has attacked us, debilitated us and pacified us through desperate work conditions, privatisation and cuts to much needed public services. Every small revolt that frightens gunmen, angers huntsmen, and directly halts undemocratically funded initiatives implemented solely for the appeasement of the rich, is a revolutionary act that normalises dissent.
So, if you have the time and the ability and you’re angry enough, get to your nearest zone and call the Gloucestershire Badger Office on 07582607913. Alternatively, you can donate much needed funds for fuel and equipment to Hunt Sab groups in the area.
Written by Daniel Dawson