Amidst the number of other suspicious, much less futilely brutal activities, in the pursuit of rural blood sports, we’re currently knee-deep in the badger cull, set to run until 2025 at least, and Government’s dodgy bTB eradication policy plans makes hard reading, but who, locally, bothers with licences anyway? Just lob some peanuts, and fire away….
Allow me, doubtful a counterargument will come my way being they usually don’t warrant communication other than hate-mail or vindictive social media comments, an opinion piece on a particular recent incident highlighted by non-profit organisation, Wiltshire Against the Badger Cull; now, let’s dig those claws in, shall we?
You got to laugh, if not cry, when supporters excuse their actions with the argument campaigners know nothing of “country ways.” I beg to differ, I’m sure most live locally too, in rural areas. More likely they know nothing in comprehending just why trigger-happy landowners cannot find humane methods of dealing with so-called pests, which, incidentally, are plentiful. And in that, feel the need to apply a variety of pathetic and wretched smokescreens to justify their thirst for blood. But, you know, I don’t like to mince my words.
So infuriated to hear of this one, and the police’s apparent lack of action towards it, according to the organisation I’ve no reasonable grounds to doubt. I pondered a title of Wiltshire’s Killing Fields, but thought twice, it may be offensive to victims of the genocide in Cambodia. After all, MPs far more intelligent than me, declared animals are not sentient life forms, didn’t they? Though a withdrawal bill to transfer the EU protocol on animal sentience into UK law was narrowly defeated, the jury is out on what the vote meant in practice. Me? I saw a dead cat lying in the road recently, and another cat clearly crying at its side. Make of that what you will, but consider your pet dog, their affection for you is indisputable.
Anyway, the story goes something like this…. are you sitting awkwardly and about to retch? Then I’ll begin, but warn, some areas of reality here might be distressing.
Monks Farm near Gastard is the setting for our fairy-tale, one dark night when the Wiltshire Against the Badger Cull patrol entered a field there, to cross a footpath close to a badger’s sett. All of a sudden, a shot was heard, the crusaders knew they were too late.
The patrol raced towards the sett, as cull shooters the campaigners called “cowardly,” fled the scene. Myself, I cannot be so judgemental and refuse to name-call, but being they reported they’d “managed to grab the body, and drag it 100m pouring with blood to their vehicle,” through an act where the farmer was “determined to wipe out this sett in his crop field,” even I, non-prude, confessed occasional wasp-killer must acknowledge, it all seems a little Bad Boys to me. The farmer is named in their Facebook post, I like to think he sees himself as Will Smith in some popcorn-munching overdramatic Hollywood trash; “keep my woke do-gooders’ names out of your fucking jokes!”
Wiltshire Against the Badger Cull have been monitoring the sett ever since, and regularly record activity, badgers, as well as his attempts to wipe them out. They watched the surviving badgers playing nearby in his fields often, using their thermal or night-vision cameras right up to Autumn 2021. I’m assuming the field was fallow, being the campaigners state, “with nothing in the field to “protect” (landowners smokescreen excuse to destroy wildlife on their land), we had hoped they would be safe for the winter and in peace to birth their cubs, which occurs between January and March, with cubs remaining underground until April or May.”
But upon their return in February, and to their horror, the entire field had been deep ploughed ready for planting potatoes. They claimed, “the setts were completely wiped out and nothing of them survived. Undoubtedly the sett was active at the time, as we witnessed on our cameras, even having taken a still photo of them in the field in the October.”
They reported the matter to rural crime team, who discovered the farmer, obviously angry at the badgers for daring to build a home in a corner of his field, and angry at them for having the gall to try to lawfully protect them, had applied to Natural England for permission to interfere with the sett, “to protect crops.” Poppycock is great word to insert at this conjunction, I feel; one can only apply to cull badgers to prevent the spread of Bovine TB in cattle, which opens another pandora’s box I’m sure we’re aware of. There’s little evidence to show this is anyway effective from Bovine TB in cattle, badgers rarely go near cattle, and likely the spread of the virus is from cattle-to-cattle because of bad farming practises.
But this contradiction of the purpose of the cull is besides the point here. Badgers are protected species in the UK, so if they already have an established sett, there is nothing you can do. There are laws in place to protect badgers from coming to harm. According to UK law, you cannot dig for a badger, mistreat a badger, allow or provoke a dog to enter a badger sett, disturb or block access to a badger sett, nor intentionally take, injure or kill a badger; so there it is. Wiltshire Against the Badger Cull claim “the truth is they just want them off their land, because it’s ingrained in them that they can do as they please on their land.”
I find myself wondering just how much damage to acres of crop can one badger sett possibly do? I mean, really, are they likely to invite their badger friends to an illegal rave on your land, are they football hooligan badgers prospectively out to cause trouble? “Come on you black and whites!”
This was a breach of the licence, clearly, as Wiltshire Against the Badger Cull explain, “the licence does not allow him to destroy an active sett, nor cause suffering to a protected animal. In this case the undoubted suffocation of badgers and their cubs as they slept during daylight whilst he ploughed. The former 11+ healthy active entrances which we originally surveyed some years ago, have never to this date reappeared.”
Badgers are an endangered species, uncontrolled destruction of them will wipe them out for good, that’s why I’m relaying these claims, and not to upset those in the agricultural industry. There are methods to protect crops, better fences lying further below the surface than badgers can burrow, use natural repellents, or motion sensor floodlights.
Every fairy-tale needs a happy ending, and the group said, “a couple of months ago, we were delighted to find a new active entrance not far away from the former sett, and finding what is clearly a survivor from the wiped-out clan, we captured some beautiful video, proving the sett to be active. We once again asked the rural crime team to investigate, and also contacted Natural England as did the police.”
But the twist comes thus, “we are saddened to report that the case has been closed with no action taken, and once again the criminal slaughter of our wildlife goes unpunished. This is why so many people take the matter into their own hands, because we cannot rely on the law, or even those paid to uphold it.”
Wiltshire Against the Badger Cull ask for help in the field, or if not, consider making a donation to their fuel and equipment fund, or just buy them a coffee. They conclude, “we note no licences for this year’s cull have yet been published, but we know shooters are in fields still killing our badgers every night through the last six weeks, and although this year’s cull is beginning to draw to a close, we are still out filming and watching our stripy friends and will continue to do so until this whole murderous chapter is finally brought to an end.”
Myself, as a nocturnal worker, badgers pass me by, we keep ourselves to ourselves to be honest, they can have a little growl at me from time-to-time, maybe I get too close to their sett, and that’s understandable. But in all, I have a little banter at the way they waddle, and generally call them out for their chubby bottoms when they run off! Still, the last thing I want is to see my work buddies shot, and possibly become extinct.
Therefore, hats off to Wiltshire Against the Badger Cull for the work they do, and though I don’t understand quite why police have failed to prosecute, likely the lack of evidence excuse, if they don’t go investigating these things, as ol’ PCC Wilko Cobra Kai seems prominent in stamping out hare coursing but vauge on fox hunting, they never will have a case, now will they? Much of this opinion piece is based upon the words of the campaign group, I’ll give you this much, but consider Wiltshire Police, in their special measures, hardly appear to be proactive in abiding to the law against blood sports. I’ll leave you with this recent photo, to remind you, and for you to make your own mind up, but ask, if Swindon and Oxford football hooligans clashed, would you send an active supporter of either team to police it?!