Farmers are having their land vandalised and are being harassed and intimidated by activists fighting against a badger cull in Gloucestershire.
A pilot cull of badgers in the county has been given the go-ahead by Natural England in a move which has divided opinion.
Some believe the action will minimise the spread of TB in cattle, while others are vehemently against a cull as they believe there is no scientific evidence to suggest it will work.
However, police in the county have reported a number of incidents between aggressive campaigners and farmers in recent days as the cull begins in earnest.
Forest of Dean District councillor Roger Yeates (C, Oxenhall and Newent North East) is a beef farmer of 60 cattle in Gorsley, where his family owns 70 acres of land in the middle of the cull area.
While he is against the cull, he knows of neighbouring farmers who have been targeted by over-zealous activists.
He said: “I know one farmer who has had a number of stiles smashed down on his land. We haven’t had any trouble with TB ourselves, but our cattle are being tested, in fact we had some tested yesterday.
“Personally I am against the cull. They should trap the badgers first and test them. If they are all clear they should release them back into their setts.”
Meanwhile Jan Rowe, 67, a dairy farmer in Gloucestershire who is a director of GlosCon, the company set up to organise the cull, has received personal threats.
He said: “As I am named as a director I have had quite a hard time. Some of it has been quite nasty, there has been a fair amount of intimidation.
“The thing is it has been from people who have no idea about the cull, it is just a cause they have latched on to. We know a cull will work, despite the science interpretation by the other side. There are two options available – to vaccinate or to cull. Vaccination in its current form will not work. Farmers are desperate to get on with the cull, people should let them.”
Gloucestershire Constabulary said they received “a number” of reports of intimidation, harassment and damage against farmers.
A spokesman added: “We can confirm we are following up a number of reports of this nature and would urge anyone who has been a victim of any offences to speak to us directly so that we can take appropriate action.”
Yesterday, it was reported in the Telegraph that anti-cull protesters were planning to occupy barns in the West.
It said: “They intend to exploit what they believe is a loophole in new squatting laws.”