That's one way to badger farmers: squatters join battle to halt cull

Activists plan to shadow shooting parties with vuvuzelas to scare badgers away

Opponents of the badger cull have enlisted the help of members of the squatter and Traveller communities, threatening to occupy farm buildings and set up camps on private land where badgers will be shot.

The threat, from a newly-formed protest group called Squat the Cull, has further escalated tension in the rural areas earmarked for trials of the Government’s controversial culling policy, with local police forces preparing for clashes between farmers and animal rights activists.

Badgers can be shot legally by licensed marksmen in two cull zones in the West Country from 1 June. Natural England has issued licences for the killing of 70 per cent of badgers in both areas in order to reduce the spread of bovine tuberculosis to cattle.

“We think we have around 30 serious people willing to spend time on this and live on site with another 50 or so who can come for a day and will help resist eviction,” Dave Peel, a member of the group, told The Independent.

“We will work with other animal rights activists and hunt saboteurs and try physically to stop the cull by standing in front of the guns.”

He added: “Live-in vehicles of all descriptions are being talked about [...] We are also interested in squatting barns and any other out buildings.”

Mr Peel, 35, a forklift driver from south London, said that his group would contact members of the Occupy movement, who sustained a protest camp outside St Paul’s for several months, to seek their involvement or advice.

The cull is expected to attract one of the largest mobilisations of animal rights activists in recent times. Veteran hunt saboteurs and activists who took part in the campaign against animal testing at Huntingdon Life Sciences have joined local opponents of the cull to help with the mapping of cull zones.

The main protest group, Stop the Cull, has pledged that its members will shadow shooting parties with megaphones and vuvuzelas to scare badgers back into their setts.

Jay Tiernan, a leader of Stop the Cull, said activists associated with the group would act within the law but that it would “not condemn” harassment of farmers involved in the cull or damage to private property. Mr Peel said that the group would be accompanied by “plain-clothed legal monitors” of the kind that attended the Dale Farm evictions. “If they get heavy-handed and break the law by illegally arresting us or attacking us we will be better placed to sue them,” Mr Peel said.

Police in Gloucestershire have said they will ensure that peaceful protest is permitted while “dealing with any incidents of crime or disorder”. Assistant Chief Constable Richard Berry said that any additional policing costs would be met by the Home Office. The shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh has said that policing the cull would cost £4m.

The badger cull, which has the strong backing of the National Farmers Union, is opposed by a broad coalition of animal welfare groups including the RSPCA, the League Against Cruel Sports and the RSPB – all of which have dissociated themselves from the kind of direct action advocated by more radical groups such as Stop the Cull and Squat  the Cull.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links