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

    Oct 07 2013


    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.


    We drive off at high speed and pick up Jay.



    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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