One year on and it’s time to get back into the field to stop the culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire. Since Somerset is closest to Dorset, we will be focusing our support there. Last year car-loads of supporters from Dorset were out in the zone, and this year we want to make sure even more people are involved.
For those wanting to walk the footpaths then the Somerset Badger Patrol is for you. You can follow them and get updates on Facebook or via their website. They meet at a central location every night and walk on public rights of way in large visible groups throughout the cull zone.
Dorset Hunt Sabs will also be in the zone every night and need as many people in the field as possible. The simple fact is that if people are in the immediate vicinity of shooters, then the shooters MUST pack up and move on. This is truly lifesaving work, so if you feel you are able to help please contact them. They will have experienced people who know the area leading small covert groups. They also have much of the equipment needed but are in need of support to get one essential bit of kit – a thermal imager, which you can help fund here.
Although Dorset has been spared the cull for now, we cannot let our guard down, a cull could be sprung on us at any time, since all the formalities have already been done and the NFU propaganda machine is working in overdrive pushing for a cull in Dorset. One of the things that will make a cull less likely is to have a strong vaccination programme running in the county, which is why we strongly support the Dorset Badger Vaccination Project, who are doing incredible work. Please support them so that in the coming months they can make sure more of Dorset’s badgers are protected from bTB and the cull.
However you can help, now is the time to get active and involved. Please show your support and let’s make sure this year’s culls are even more pointless than last and that we put an end to this whole sorry mess once and for all.
To all the performers and people who gave their time and energy to make BROCKSTOCK happen, thank you! We raised hundreds to help protect badgers in Dorset and beyond. Please check out and support all these badger-friendly musicians.
Andrea Kenny (singer from The Brandy Thieves)
The High Cs
and of course… Thanks to everyone who came to the show and all those who have supported us through our first year. We will keep fighting for the badgers and hope you will join us.
They gathered in Borough Gardens, first just a few, then dozens and then hundreds, all with one purpose and one voice: to stop the badger cull! The marchers filled the streets of Dorchester, the drums beat time, the town crier announced us and the Badger Trust’s Dominic Dyer explained why we were there. It was a wonderful sight and even better sound as the streets echoed with the refrain “Save Our Badgers, Stop The Cull!” After an hour on the streets we all returned to Borough Gardens for amazing food from Fairfoods and great music for Dorset bands The High C’s and Sketchy Dog. To all those who came and to all those who made it happen, thank you. Together we are an unstoppable force, and we’re only just getting started!
We are very excited to announce a march against the badger cull followed by a party in the park in Dorchester on Saturday 17 May, 12pm to 3pm, Borough Gardens.
First and foremost, this march is to support our friends in Somerset and Gloucestershire who face yet another tough Summer spent protecting badgers. We will be organising teams to go and support them during this incredibly stressful but crucial time. In Dorset we will be focusing on promoting badger vaccination and are pleased to have a speaker from the Dorset Badger Vaccination Project, as well as other special guests.
The fact that the badger cull has not been rolled out to Dorset this year is a huge victory for everyone who has been fighting against this insane policy, so we felt celebrations were in order. After the march Fairfoods catering will be serving delicious veggie food and there will be live music from some of Dorset’s finest bands. Borough gardens is a lovely spot and we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed for sunshine.
We ask that everyone assemble in Borough Gardens (DT1 1RE – see map below for location and nearest car parks) at 12pm, ready to march through town at 12:30pm. We aim to be back in Borough Gardens for 1:30pm, where we will have food and music until 3pm.
Please help us spread the word by sharing this blog post and if you’re on Facebook please join and share the event page. You can also download a poster advertising this march, either in colour or b&w, as well as a double-sided A5 flyer. We also have professionally printed copies of these materials that we can send you to distribute in your area.
See you there!
Following a leaked report from the Independent Panel of Experts (IEP) showing that trial badger culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset had been an abject failure, we are calling for the culls to be abandoned and released this statement:
It was clear months ago that the culls were failing to reach key targets set by the Coalition Government, despite repeated denials by the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, DEFRA and the NFU. Now the Independent Panel of Experts set up by the Government to review the results of the culls have confirmed everything we have been saying.
The IEP concluded that the culls fell far short of the target numbers of badgers killed, even after extending both culls beyond six weeks, yet Owen Paterson had hailed them as a success. Many leading scientists and wildlife experts believe the failure of the culls could actually worsen the spread of TB. The Panel also found that the culls were not humane. Owen Paterson, without waiting for the Panel to report, claimed months ago that they were. According to Natural England Compliance Monitors some badgers took five minutes or more to die in agony after being shot.
The scientific facts were manipulated to suit the policy. DEFRA has also now admitted that both badger populations and TB rates in cattle were grossly overstated. Badger numbers were falling, not ‘soaring out of control’, which is what the Environment Secretary claimed. The three rotten planks shoring up this ramshackle policy have therefore collapsed.
The cull policy has been shot full of more holes than the unfortunate badgers who needlessly died. It is clearly time to abandon this unjustified and unpopular slaughter and implement other measures which have been found effective elsewhere, such as in Wales where a programme of badger vaccination, tighter bio-security on farms and cattle movements has produced a far more positive result for farmers than the two culls in England did.
In Dorset farmers and land owners have a clear choice, either pay for costly, ineffective and enormously unpopular mass slaughter of badgers, or opt for much cheaper, scientifically proven and humane vaccination of badgers through the Dorset Badger Vaccination Project.
Supporters of Dorset for Badger and Bovine Welfare, some dressed as badgers, delivered a giant Valentine’s Day card to the Dorchester offices of the National Farmers Union (NFU) urging them to “have a heart for badgers” on Valentines Day.
The NFU are lobbying for a mass cull of badgers, under the guise of preventing the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB). Last year trial culls were undertaken in Somerset and Gloucestershire to ascertain if shooting free-running badgers was feasible and “humane”. At present the evidence points to the trials being a shambles, falling far short of their intended targets and causing significant harm to wildlife and local communities alike. Further more, a government-funded 10-year randomised badger culling trial produced clear evidence to show that badgers were not a significant vector for transmitting bTB to cattle and that improved cattle movement controls and biosecurity on farms was the key to managing the disease.
Wildlife and conservation groups as well as progressive farmers are backing humane, effective and scientifically sound vaccination of badgers, with herd immunity achievable in just 5 years. The Dorset Badger Vaccination Project (www.dbvp.org) is offering low-cost badger vaccination to all Dorset farmers and landowners as a cheaper and more effective alternative to culling.
Dorset for Badger and Bovine Welfare says:
We’re asking the NFU to stop playing political games, to review the scientific evidence which shows culling badgers is a waste of time, and to embrace modern, humane and effective vaccination instead. Having a heart for badgers means recognising that they are an important part of the British countryside, that their welfare and the welfare of cattle requires long term solutions such as vaccination and better farm management practices, not short term appeasements like culling which has been shown will make matters worse for all concerned.
The killing has started in Somerset and Gloucestershire. Badgers are being shot with high-powered rifles in the dead of night, some will be killed outright, others will be left wounded. Despite the efforts of hundreds of thousands of compassionate people to lobby, leaflet and campaign, despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that killing badgers will not make any meaningful difference to TB in cattle, the government have forged ahead with their mindless plans. The only hope left for those badgers in the firing line are people willing to go out into the countryside and be a visible presence in the cull zones. It’s a monumental task, a needle in a haystack search of hundreds of square miles, looking out for the vehicles, lights in the darkness and the sound of gunfire. The more people willing to undertake this task the fewer badgers will suffer and die. There are nightly patrols in both counties. Somerset Badger Patrol and the Wounded Badger Patrol in Gloucestershire need your help now. Meeting points are posted daily. Lifts are being organised from all over the UK. We encourage all of our supporters to support these efforts in any way they can.
In Dorset we are doing all we can to make sure that if the cull comes here we are ready. Sett surveying is under way but we need help to make sure we know where the badger setts in the provisional cull zones are. So far these have only been identified as East Dorset and North Dorset. These are huge areas to cover and there is still much to be done. There is also a Dorset Wounded Badger Patrol getting together people who pledge to undertake patrols if and when the cull begins in Dorset. We will begin training for these patrols in the coming months. We welcome new members and continue to have public leafleting events and meetings (see the sidebar to the right for details for dates). Finally, we are setting up a vaccination programme so we can offer low-cost vaccination of badgers to anyone within the proposed cull zones.
We all need to do what we can. All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.