• DAY 373 (over-running): DID I KILL A COW WITH MY THERMOS?

    Oct 07 2013

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    At midnight I set out in a 4×4 to look for more badger shooting with one of the key activists in the anti-badger cull movement. He is known simply as Jay. Two others join us as well.

    Jay is tall, slender, dry-humoured and charismatic in a way I can’t figure out.  He has spearheaded much of the anti-cull movement but wears his experience lightly.

    ‘Are you the leader of all this?’ I ask

    ‘The spokesperson I suppose. Not the leader. Hierarchies get very very messy. People do their own thing around here.’ He pulls a large black hood over his head as we drive out of the camp . ‘If we get stopped by the police only the driver needs to speak. We are doing nothing wrong’

    stop the cull

    Life in prison

    But Jay has done things wrong – at least in the eyes of the police. He has been in jail twice for activism – once for rescuing a beagle from scientific research and once for blocking a motorway  to make an animal rights protest. At the latter event another activist almost died and it led him to drop his protesting for a while. The incident was not Jay’s fault but it affected him deeply.

    He is clearly not the aggressive knee-jerk militant  people might assume. Although the dark hoodie doesn’t help.

    ‘I’ve been to boarding school, I’ve been in the army and I’ve been in prison. Prison was the easiest of all of them. In boarding school you wonder ‘why has someone put me here?’ In the army you wonder ‘why have I put myself here?’. In prison it’s a clear choice’

    I’m impressed by this in a way I shouldn’t tell my wife. The deeper I go into the horror of the misery we inflict upon animals the more reasonable it seems to take actions that  go against laws described by people who probably don’t hold animals in moral regard.

    Beagles being rescued from animal testing.

    Beagles being rescued from animal testing.

    ‘I’m prepared to go to prison for a year’ says Jay. ‘If you aren’t prepared to do that then you are hampered. You can only be so effective’. I ponder this for a while. The driver puts a deep melodic rap  on the sound system and the mood seems to plunge into a dark intensity.

    A short while later we drop Jay at another location where he will stay on lookout on the road in the darkness and we continue.

    Shooting convoy

    As we turn down a small lane a green landrover pulls out in front of us

    ‘Follow that!’ says one of the activists. Then another landrover  pulls out behind us too. ‘Jesus, we are in a convoy!’  I assume this is a BAD thing and want to panic but apparently it is GOOD. In the darkness, each driver may think we are the other and so show us their shoot location.

    The convoy snakes through ever narrowing lanes until the driver in front realises what is happening and speeds up. We race to keep up with him until he turns sharply into a farm lane. We come to a sharp stop and before I can work out what is happening one of the activists then jumps out carrying heavy duty locks. There are two farm gates at the start of the farm and he pulls them closed and  padlocks them shut. The landrovers the turn around and come back.

    Surely we should leave?  The activist stands his ground and shines a torch directly at them. For a moment the landrovers face us and we face them. Then they turn away. They are  locked into their location and we message others to come down and sab any shooting.  ‘They won’t be going anywhere tonight”

    ‘Let’s get out of here’ says our driver quickly. In the rush I  drop my bag which contains a  thermosflask full of coffee and it smashes over my expensive fleece inside. I throw the thermos flask into a bush.

    ‘Let’s go, but don’t leave any evidence’

    Oh crap, my thermos. It must have my fingerprints on it! I quickly run into the bush. It’s hot and soaking. What do I do with it? I take a run and lob it in a field of cows – as if that will somehow exonerate me.

    SOMERSET NEWS: BADGER CULL TAKES NOSEDIVE AS PROTESTER KILLS COW WITH THERMOS FLASK.

    We drive off at high speed and pick up Jay.

     

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    Did we save any badgers?

    Who knows – probably not.

    But then again if everyone did as Jay and the other activists are doing, if everyone was out in the hills keeping an eye on the unscrupulous shooting/trapping it would be IMPOSSIBLE to kill many badgers. The dedication of the activists is vital

    And now it seems that the badger cull might well fail and leave unorganic egg all over ministers’ faces.

    And talking of ministers and bravery…in my next blog I’ll report my trip to parliament and my visit to one Conservative who stood up against her own party to say the badger cull was wrong. Not so easy.

    How much political integrity is behind the badger cull?

    Can we rely on politicians to push forward animal rights in any way at all? (and seriously, I’ m NOT knee-jerk anti politicians at all)

    Will the badger cull fail because of Jay and his merry vegans? If it does we could be talking tens of thousands of badgers saved. RESULT.

     

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  • DAY 335: OH BUGGER, THEY’VE STARTED RANDOMLY SHOOTING BRITAIN’S MOST ICONIC ANIMAL

    Aug 28 2013
    Keep your head down!!! The badger cull started earlier this week. Around 5000 badgers will be killed in Somerset and Gloucestershire in an attempt to prove that this can done humanely and efficiently as a viable way of controlling bTB in cows. BULLOCKS.

    Keep your head down. The badger cull started earlier this week. Around 5000 badgers will be killed in Somerset and Gloucestershire in an attempt to prove that this can done humanely and efficiently as a viable way of controlling bTB in cows. BULLOCKS.

    I’m becoming scared of myself. I’m slowly but surely turning into the sort of person I never thought I’d be. Angry, confused, political, opinionated. How repellent. The badger cull has started and so has my ire.

    On Monday eve marksmen went  into the Somerset night with various guns (anything other than a water pistol will suffice) and  started shooting the first of five thousand badgers, Britain’s sometime ‘protected’ species. The shooting will continue for up to six weeks. Many badgers will die immediately, but some slowly of organ failure or infection. Shooting a badger at up to 70m in darkness doesn’t guarantee a clear hit and the chance of a miserable slow death are high.

    Protesters have mobilised. Many are patrolling the area looking for wounded badgers, others are taking more direct action against the cull

    Protesters have mobilised. Many are patrolling the area looking for wounded badgers, others are taking more direct action against the cull

    A scientific debate?

    The debate about killing these creatures has not, as you might think, been about whether cute, fluffy creatures deserve a right to life. Most animal rights people know that really important arguments don’t get your far in the public sphere. It’s been about the fact that top independent scientists, having spent years of the government’s money and time, have come to the conclusion that the badger cull is pointless and that other alternatives are available (vaccination, bio-security, cattle movement, EU regulations…)

    The aim, as you must know by now, is to try and stop bovine tuberculosis in cows, a problem that all sides agree has devastated farmers. The belief is that since badger can infect cows we must kill the badgers to protect the cows. The problem is that all the science suggests this isn’t a full or even adequate solution and in many scenarios might make the matter worse.

    And don’t forget: this is only a relatively ‘small’ test area designed NOT to establish whether culling helps stop bTB in cows but whether the killing of badgers can be effective and humane. Shooting in the dark at 7om? hmmm.

    I’ve been to Parliament, I’ve witnessed the pointless debate in the house of commons, and I’ve recently interviewed a top MP about all this which I will write about shortly. I’m currently out of the country (more on this soon) but as soon as I am back I will have to temporarily interrupt my pig work to get back to helping the badgers.  This means the ‘year to help’ may be a ‘year and a bit to help’ but I’m sure you’ll forgive me.

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    And by the way if you think this means I”m not concerned or devastated that children and other civilians are being gassed alive in Syria then think again. So many people assume a compassion for animals means less compassion for humans. But the heart is not a wallet it is a muscle. Compassion for animals has only heightened my concern for all fleshy things that have a beating heart…and strangely it has got me more in touch with my own.

    My solution?

    Why not send the badger marksmen to fight with the rebels in Syria, go give Assad tuberculosis and stick him in hole, milk the Syrian government for all its money to give to…er..badgers in Britain.

    ME FOR PRESIDENT.

    WANT TO HELP THE BADGERS?

    PLEASE GIVE MONEY TO SOMERSET AGAINST THE BADGER CULL IF YOU WANT TO SUPPORT LOCAL ACTION ON THE GROUND TO TRY AND HELP THE WOUNDED BADGERS AND PROTEST AGAINST THE SHOOTING

    OR IF YOU WANT TO GO DOWN THERE CONTACT ME AND I WILL DIRECT YOU

     

     

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