Oct 03 2013


    It’s fitting that the badger cull is being played out in the dark of night because not an awful lot of people seem to know what is going on.

    The police hang around in carparks not entirely sure who is an activist and who is out for a drink, the badger cullers have no clear idea of the exact population count of those pesky black and white things and the activists, for all their dedication, don’t really know where the shooting is happening.

    But no one must be more confused than the badgers. Out they go for a worm and bang! they’re dead. It’s all painless though, so not to worry.

    I’m down in Somerset, sleeping in a tent by day (sweaty) and snooping through cull zone woods by night with a pair of children’s night vision googles.  I live off rice cakes and minimal dairy products – not out of conviction but because I’m  nervous of being ousted by the other vegans in ‘Camp Badger’. Apparently someone was kicked out  because they came in eating a bacon sandwich. It may be hearsay but I wear my leather belt close to my chest – just like Simon Cowell.


    The activists are a colourful and very friendly bunch from varying backgrounds. On my first night I find myself in a car with a number of females, one who is a recovering heroin addict, another who is a computer sales person by the day and a dominatrix by night. She is very gentle and polite.

    Her phone beeps occasionally. ‘Wank tax’ she explains. One of her clients pays her phone credit every time he masturbates.

    Vegan porn

    Vegan porn


    ‘Do you force them to do stuff?’

    ‘Of course!  I’ve forced one to go vegetarian.  He’s lost 2 stone and loving it. He sends me photos of the cheese counter at Tesco’s and calls it ‘Vegan Porn”

    This is one way to convert the world. Should my book fail to be published I can always get out the whip. Not leather of course.


    Strange beauty

    It’s an odd experience because at night everywhere in the cull zone is silent, dark and undeniably romantic. Glades, streams, forested hills glisten in moonlight.

    This is not an obvious battle ground.

    But the ‘shooters’ use infra red and silencers. Which is frankly not fair. The protestors use waterproof maps, marker pens, mobile phones and  dedication.  Police vehicles are everywhere. They are apparently  ‘independent’, here to protect both sides, but there is a strong sense in the camp that they are against the protestors.

    ‘Someone in this camp is a police officer in disguise! ‘  shouts one person at Camp Badger when I arrive. ‘It’s bloody obvious’.

    Am I the police officer?

    As the sun goes down at the end of the day the badgers begin to stir - some woods in Somerset full of badger setts

    As the sun goes down at the end of the day the badgers begin to stir – some woods in Somerset full of badger setts


    Camp Badger resides in an umarked field hidden at the end of winding lanes and looks like a small eco-festival that has been abandoned by the musicians – tents are sprawled across a fields, fires are smoldering, it’s rather silent. This is the HQ of operations – but there are less people here than I would have thought.

    The strategy is disruption.

    If shooting is discovered then high pitched whistles are sounded. By law, shooters cannot fire if people are present. If badger traps are found they are dismantled, if active badger setts (homes) are found they are watched over ta night by someone who is prepared to get wet and sodden.

    Despite the confusion, the dedication of the ‘sabs’ seems to be paying off. Protestors have stopped shoots, cages have been dismantled and reports are coming in that the government has shot only hundreds, not thousands of badgers.

    People can be divided into two groups: the law-abiding and the not-so-law-abiding, generally along older/middleclass and younger/left-wing lines. The former go on long walks in big groups with high viz jackets looking for injured badgers. They come back at midnight. The latter go out in smaller groups to ‘sab’ and disrupt activity. They dress in dark clothing and walk through private woods and come back at 5am.

    On the first night I go for long walks and drive around with my female companions. Not a badger in sight. I feel very much like I belong to the first group. But on the next night it is much, much more adventurous. I join the sabs….


    Post divide