“1st June 2013…. aged 63….. never been on a demo, or any kind of protest, in my life….. Heading to the ‘London Demo Against The Badger Cull’ – on the train, wondering what I had let myself in for but knowing I felt passionate about how wrong, cruel and unnecessary this imminent cull was. I needn’t have worried. When I saw another guy with a black and white beard on the same train, I knew I had met a kindred spirit and indeed he has proved to be a fellow anti-cull activist and hopefully lifelong friend.
Inspired by the likes of Brian May and Virginia McKenna speaking at the demo, there was no turning back and the summer of 2013 found me in the cull zone in Somerset. Walking across the Exmoor countryside at night, brilliant stars, balmy summer evenings, freezing cold autumnal evenings, torrential rain, mist, I was never alone as old and young walked the walk to save our badgers.
Bedfordshire Badger Action group was formed to see how best we could support the anti-cull, using peaceful means, and we started fundraising and drawing up a list of how we could assist those in the zones. Some of us couldn’t leave it at that though, and so I found myself in the Somerset zone six times plus three visits to the Gloucestershire zone. Facebook proved an invaluable tool for information and communication as I rapidly built up a friends’ list of individuals and groups sympathetic to the cause.
I started out walking with Somerset Badger Patrol, walking footpaths at night in high viz jackets, blowing whistles, flashing torches where necessary, whatever it took to disrupt the callous shooters from decimating our innocent badgers. I found a great bunch of people on these walks, many of whom had put their lives on hold for this six weeks (subsequently extended over further weeks) in order to save the badgers. Our very presence, along with all the patrols night after night, was enough to halt shooting as cullers are not allowed to shoot when members of the public are present. One night, we heard shots fired near us and dashed off in the direction from where they came, flashing torches and making a lot of noise. I think we definitely saved lives that night. Later the same evening, stopped by the police and asked for our details, we naively gave them, even though we were not driving at the time, or committing an offence. It has been a sharp learning curve and we know better now!
Weeks of driving to and from the cull zone, patrolling in the night, at times cold, wet and exhausted, but always buoyed on by the mutual desire to save the badgers, took their toll both mentally and physically. People were followed by private security guards, harassed by police, falsely accused by farmers, verbally abused by local yobs and shouted at by various people driving past in cars. Cars have been vandalised, dead rabbits left on windscreens, graffiti daubed on bonnets. Some people even had cars driven at them in anger. A lone local lady was chased for over ten miles before she could shake off her menacing pursuers. Reports to police were generally ignored. Although sadly we could not prevent all badgers from being shot, action in the field meant that the shooters did not reach their target number of badgers in 2013.
And so again, this year, we find ourselves facing the same situation of having to defend Britain’s badgers, made the scape goat of the NFU and their shoddy practices. Again, I have returned to the killing fields of Somerset, but this year, rather than walk with the patrols, I have been out with the local “pixies” (spirits who creep about both during the day and the hours of darkness, righting the wrongs of the evil cullers). Direct action is saving lives, saving some badgers from being shot, or trapped in a cage for the night to be shot at dawn the next day. It can be scary, heart stopping at times, boring as you sit on guard at others, but always exhilarating and rewarding. Night after night, Britain’s Badger Army is out in the countryside saving our wildlife and will not cease until this barbarism is stopped.”
SAVE OUR BADGERS! STOP THE CULL!
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