The badger cull – coming to a field near you anytime soon!

ON SATURDAY, July 15, local badger protectors gathered at the Arkell Centre in Nailsworth for a Badger Tea Party.

People of all ages, from one to ninety one came to commit to positive action.

This was a lovely family event with children's activities which included badger mask making, a treasure hunt and quiz; all of which were educational and competitive.

For those older, there were films of a typical badger patrol with testimonies from walkers in a suite of films produced by Lush Cosmetics, the ethical high street company; talks by local people and beautifully designed ’badger cakes’ on offer for afternoon tea.

Raffle prizes were donated by Asparagasm (Nailsworth) and Ideal Home Range (Painswick), the proceeds of which will support our work.

Dom from Cheltenham said “This Tea Party was a great blend of information, children's activities, food and time to chat”.

This will now become an annual event.

Ian Redmond, an internationally acclaimed tropical field biologist and conservationist spoke of the badgers’ role in the eco-system.

Whilst an expert in great apes and elephants, he discussed the similarities with badgers.

They are natural gardeners.

They contribute to the choreography of nature in the wild, spreading seeds and nurturing growth.

We disturb the natural order at our peril.

Do you enjoy watching ‘your’ badgers snuffling around in the garden?

Do you enjoy knowing that badgers co-exist in harmony with your neighbourhood?

Now they need your help more than ever.

Thousands of healthy badgers are being killed each year in the mistaken belief that this will generate a much needed reduction in Bovine Tuberculosis in cattle.

The authorities know that 94 per cent of infection is from cattle to cattle.

The remaining six per cent may come from a range of wildlife, including badgers although no-one knows precisely how.

The badger cull is likely to be extended to the Stroud area, either this year or next.

Killing will begin in earnest at the end of August.

The four year pilot in Gloucestershire, far from ending will continue.

Last year the original zone was extended into the North Cotswolds and into Herefordshire.

The year on year extensions mean that no badger is safe.

Badgers will be baited and either shot by gunmen openly in the fields as they leave their setts to forage or trapped in cages and then shot.

This is a secretive operation and the areas for shooting are not made public but it covers areas with well trodden footpaths.

Badger protectors in our area are very active, particularly the Wounded Badger Patrols which venture out nightly during the cull to find those badgers which fail to ‘drop to the shot’ and crawl away injured.

According to the Government’s own findings, this figure can be as high as 20 per cent of all animals shot.

Badgers could become close to extinction in the killing zones, one of which could be all around the Stroud area very soon.

What will be the impact on their habitat and that of their wildlife neighbours?

Ian Redmond’s speech heartened the audience: ‘Do not be deterred, continue to support badgers – the science is with you! ‘