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Police fear badger cull protests will pose risk to public safety

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 21, 2012

Badgers
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Confrontations between badger cull protesters and armed farmers and landowners has “clear potential for harm to public safety”, senior police officers have warned.

A trial cull in Gloucestershire has already been given the go-ahead by Government agency Natural England, with a second area in West Somerset waiting in the wings.

The six-week “pilot” schemes are designed to test the methodology of shooting free-running badgers and, if successful, would pave the way for expanded culls to tackle the blight of bovine TB which affects scores of farmers, and thousands of cattle, in the Westcountry every year.

There has been concerted opposition to the cull, with several court cases, and now a last-minute bid to have the issue raised again in Parliament, via an online petition.

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Police have also made plain their concerns about clashes between hard-line protesters trying to disrupt the pilot and those licensed to carry out the “controlled shooting” of badgers.

Papers detailing discussions between the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and officials at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have now been released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Detective Chief Superintendent Adrian Tudway, ACPO’s coordinator for domestic extremism, warned: “Farmers and landowners culling badgers with firearms (of any description) has potential to place armed farm workers in the near vicinity of protesters and activists, typically during the night-time; we regard this as a scenario with clear potential for harm to public safety.”

He also warned there were likely to be “incidents of lawful protest and lobbying as well as some potential for unlawful direct action, disorder and criminality”.

Meanwhile, Peter Charleston, staff officer to former Chief Constable Richard Crompton, who had ACPO responsibility for wildlife crime, warned his boss the pilot could lead to the widespread illegal killing of badgers under the cover of the cull.

Policing potential clashes between animal welfare campaigners and those licensed to shoot badgers will fall to Avon and Somerset Police.

A force spokesman said: “We are aware of the planned badger cull and the potential for protest against this action.

“We respect people’s right to protest and will engage with protesters to facilitate safe, peaceful and lawful protests.

“We have been aware of the planned cull for some time and our role is to uphold the law by responding to any reports of criminality or public disorder.

“Plans are in place to respond to any problems but for obvious reasons it is not appropriate to discuss them in detail.”

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  • Charlespk  |  September 24 2012, 8:30AM

    @badgeryou Quote:- "What it will almost certainly not do is limit bovine tuberculosis, even in the target zones of Gloucestershire and Somerset." I'll bet you haven't got the first clue about encephalitis or meningitis either!

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  • 2ladybugs  |  September 24 2012, 6:23AM

    Well knowing now that you don't even have the basic knowledge of badgers and their lifestyle anything else that you are now coming out with will be taken with a pinch of salt. You haven't read or understood any of the previous records stating that bTb had been more or less wiped out. There is no alternative at present to clear infected herds apart from culling cattle that prove positive, clearing those farms of badgers and putting massive bio security measures in place. People will continue to eat dairy products and eat beef and it is better that this meat comes from this country where at least we can have some knowledge as to how that meat is being raised and slaughtered. If it comes from abroad we have no knowledge as to what conditions the animals are bred for consumption or the conditions in which they are being slaughtered. We also have little or no knowledge as to how wildlife is being dealt with to stop TB getting into their herds.

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  • badgeryou  |  September 23 2012, 11:40PM

    The licensed killing of badgers in parts of Gloucestershire and Somerset could achieve a number of things. It could further advertise the unwelcome existence of bovine tuberculosis in British dairy herds. It could polarise opinion in the countryside and unite political opposition everywhere else. It could cost the farmers involved more than they could gain. It will almost certainly provoke active protest and put even more pressure on already hard-pressed police forces. What it will almost certainly not do is limit bovine tuberculosis, even in the target zones of Gloucestershire and Somerset. It might be helpful to list those things that are certain. Human tuberculosis is a dangerous disease. Bovine tuberculosis is a real problem for dairy farmers – who in any case have been paid too little for their milk and who have been going out of business for decades – and the disease lives on in the wild badger population. But by 1996, a policy of identification and slaughter had reduced the incidence of bovine TB in dairy herds in England and Wales to less than half a per cent, and the risk of direct transmission to humans has – with the pasteurisation of milk – long ago become negligible. The last and most systematic examination of the link between badgers and bovine TB found that, indeed, there was transmission, and proposed a series of systematic, randomised controlled trials over a sustained period to see whether culling could provide an answer. In 2003, the government, farmers, public health officers and wildlife campaigners got the answer: shooting and gassing did not eliminate, and could possibly spread, the disease. That may be because badgers disturbed in one area could migrate, taking the infection with them. The answer, delivered by Lord Krebs and the distinguished statisticians and zoologists who examined the results, could hardly be clearer: killing will not solve the problem. Lord Krebs's scientific credentials are not in doubt. He was trusted by successive British governments to head the Natural Environment Research Council, and to chair the Food Standards Agency. And he has just described the latest plan as a "crazy scheme". http://tinyurl.com/bvjp9rv

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  • 2ladybugs  |  September 23 2012, 10:59PM

    In case you are still having trouble with the annual life cycle of badgers, they feed mainly on earthworms which they get from under cowpats. a) the cattle will be housed indoors after about October depending on the weather and the ground will possibly be frozen after that. b) they have a penchant for maize which will be ready for harvesting anytime from now until the end of October.

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  • 2ladybugs  |  September 23 2012, 10:23PM

    PS do you not even know the yearly life cycle of the mammal you are trying to save???!!!!!

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  • 2ladybugs  |  September 23 2012, 9:43PM

    More nonsense, as most badgers are underground hibernating during winter months. Farmers are hardly likely to stand around wasting their time and money in the hope that a badger might just pop their head out to see if it is frosty or snowing!!!!!!!

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  • badgeryou  |  September 23 2012, 9:21PM

    Please don't forget it is now legal to shoot pregnant and nursing badgers. We find this truly shocking. GABS has just done a press release, on an issue which both GABS and Vale Wildlife Centre have discovered during enquires, and which we would like to share with you here. If you would like to share and encounter problems sharing on Facebook, please copy and paste to your time line. People just don't realise the reality of a badger cull. Group fears Pregnant Badgers to be left to die Following enquiries by Vale Wildlife Hospital and GABS, it has become apparent that the planned cull in Tewkesbury and the Forest of Dean is likely to result in pregnant badgers being shot and left to die in their setts as shooting is allowed to take place until the end of January. There is also the possibility that cubs may already have been born and that nursing mothers could be shot, resulting in the cubs starving to death. If badgers are shot and injured then they will be tracked by trained dogs which are being used by the marksmen. However, it is likely that any injured badger will attempt to make its way back to the sett and could then suffer a slow, painful death. The government announced yesterday that the planned cull of badgers is due to start in the next few weeks in Tewkesbury and Forest of Dean area. The government is refusing to state exactly when and where the cull of thousands of local badgers will take place because they fear that local people will be outraged at the slaughter on their doorsteps. The government has confirmed that night time shooting must end by 1st February to prevent badgers being shot while they are nursing dependent young but this will mean that many will be killed while they are pregnant, and some cubs may be born in January. The Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting spokesperson Liz Gaffer said "Bovine TB is a terrible disease that must be stamped out but the government's planned cull of badgers is not humane and not based on science. It has just become clear to us that pregnant badgers will be shot and left to die and this cannot be right. We ask every caring person to contact their MP and county councillor to help stop this. All the national animal charities have joined together to stop the cull and we must give them our full support. Please do what you can by going to the Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting website and making your views clear to the decision makers". http://tinyurl.com/bvjp9rv

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  • Charlespk  |  September 22 2012, 8:45AM

    It's a great pity that people like yourself have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

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  • BrockStripes  |  September 21 2012, 9:11PM

    "Charlespk The European Commission co-funds TB eradication policies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to the tune of €32 million a year. Earlier this year, it sent a delegation over to the UK to ensure the money is being spent effectively and should continue to be paid." Yes totally true to nature of this Government. Force through a cruel and bad policy which is going to fail, is unsupported by the vast majority of scientists, ALL animal welfare groups, and a mass of public opinion, so it can keep the millions of pounds worth of funding from Brussels. Scape-goating and killing tens of thousands of healthy badgers for money which could have been put to far better use. Totally sick.

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  • Charlespk  |  September 21 2012, 2:17PM

    THE European Commission has warned UK Governments they need to show greater long-term commitment to tackling the problem of bovine TB (bTB) in wildlife. In a report seen by Farmers Guardian this week, the Commission insists there is 'no scientific evidence' badger vaccination will work, compared with the 'considerable evidence' badger removal will improve the TB status of both badgers and cattle. Brussels officials warn the Welsh TB eradication plan has been 'disrupted' and will 'lose impetus' as a result of the decision taken this year to opt for vaccination over culling. It called on UK politicians to 'commit to a long-term strategy' that transcends party politics and fear of what voters might think. The European Commission co-funds TB eradication policies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to the tune of €32 million a year. Earlier this year, it sent a delegation over to the UK to ensure the money is being spent effectively and should continue to be paid. Maybe the Chief Whip was right after all. We either get this job done A.S.A.P. for public health and food security reasons, call in the army, or commence the clean-ring gassing of setts once more.

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