SNJ reporter Hayley Mortimer meets campaigners in the badger cull zone
SNJ reporter Hayley Mortimer pictured with Brian May during a Wounded Badger Patrol near Tewkesbury on Friday night
Every night for the next six weeks, campaigners will walk public footpaths throughout the pilot badger cull zone looking for wounded animals.SNJ reporter Hayley Mortimer joined members of Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting on patrol at Eldersfield near Tewkesbury on Friday night.
GRANDMOTHERS, a school teacher and a firefighter made up a group of campaigners who patrolled the countryside into the early hours of the morning.
These demonstrators are not ‘scary activists’ - they are just ordinary folk who care passionately about a cause and are trying to make a difference.
They were peaceful protesters from all backgrounds and all ages, including many children, and some had travelled from across the country.
Everyone was in good spirits as we walked along public footpaths, examining setts and checking for wounded badgers in our high-visibility jackets.
Among the patrollers were Steve and Vanessa Price, from Whiteshill, who were handing out cups of coffee to fellow campaigners.
"People have come from across the country so we thought we should make the effort," said firefighter Steve, 41.
"We are just normal people who have come out to show that we don’t agree with this cull."
One campaigner told me that there had been some ‘trouble’ earlier in the week including altercations with landowners and the police were present on Friday night.
Two officers, both from Stroud, were nearby as we walked around some of the vulnerable badger setts and were very courteous, helpful and supportive.
We didn’t see any evidence of shooting or baiting while on patrol, which many campaigners noted as a good thing.
If you are interested in joining a Wounded Badger Patrol email firstname.lastname@example.org
ROCK star Brian May joined dozens of anti-badger cull protesters on a walk through one of the pilot areas in Gloucestershire on Friday night.
The Queen guitarist received a warm round of applause when he met campaigners taking part in one of the nightly Wounded Badger Patrols in Eldersfield, near Tewkesbury.
Around 100 campaigners from Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting (GABS) patrolled the area, keeping to public footpaths looking for injured animals.
Speaking at the cull zone, May, whose group Save Me campaigns for the protection of animals, said: "I’m very proud to be among you and think you’re all wonderful for coming out.
"I feel in the air the support for us is increasing all the time.
"I believe the Government is doing something very immoral in our name, using our money.
"It's a desperate situation and a bloody situation and if this rolls out all through England it's a disaster.
"This is a political thing. The power of the big land owners is crippling this country.
"That is what we are fighting here."
Around 5,000 badgers are set to be killed in pilot zones in west Somerset and west Gloucestershire over the next six weeks in an attempt to stop the spread of bovine tuberculosis.
The NFU confirmed that the west Somerset cull began at the end of last month and opponents believe the shooting in west Gloucestershire started on Sunday night.
Patrol organiser Jeanne Berry, of Elcombe, near Slad, said: "We live in a blame culture and badgers are being blamed for spreading this terrible disease.
"They will die a painful, lingering death but we all have a right to die with some dignity and the badgers don't seem to have this right."
The cull, managed by Natural England under licence from Defra, remains hugely contentious with opponents wanting an emphasis on vaccination and tighter cattle movement measures.
However, farmers and the Government insist a cull of badgers is needed to stop spiralling rates of TB in herds.
Four people were arrested on Thursday night in the cull zone on suspicion of aggravated trespass after police responded to reports of horns being blown and individuals straying from a public footpath.
Police said they refused to give their details but a short time later they did supply the information and were released.
As the SNJ went to press four people remained in police custody after being arrested in the cull zone on suspicion of theft and aggravated trespass in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
One woman was also arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon.
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