Battle lines are drawn in badger cull in Gloucestershire
CLASHES between landowners and protesters are predicted when the controversial badger cull begins in the west of Gloucestershire.
Many farmers and other landowners are in favour of the badgers being shot in the Government-backed trial to try to stop them spreading TB to cattle.
But wildlife lovers and similar opponents are aghast at the proposed mass slaughter which they believe to be cruel and also unscientific.
Fields around Tewkesbury and Newent are likely to be where the first shots will be fired later this week.
Traditional Shave, Facial Treatment, Whisky and a Shoe Shine -...View details
Gents, enjoy a traditional shave, facial treatment, glass of whisky and a shoeshine for £31
Terms: Early and later appointments available upon request.
Contact: 01242 504887
Valid until: Tuesday, December 31 2013
But Tony Dean from the Gloucestershire Badger Group said the cruelty was colossal.
"We are against it, obviously. There is no science about it. They are on about having to shoot 1,500 badgers but they haven't got a clue how many badgers they have got in the area. As soon as the badgers hear a marksman with a high velocity rifle, they are going to leg it underground. I just can't see it working," said retired police officer Mr Dean, from Stroud, who has led nature lovers on badger watches in his local valleys for years.
Mr Dean said too that protesters couldn't be stopped from walking footpaths or blowing whistles to frighten the badgers back to their setts. The answer, he said, was a TB vaccine for cattle.
Chairman of Gloucester NFU, farmer Andrew Cozens of Eastington, said however that before badger gassing was stopped in 1970, there were just 400 reactor cattle in the whole country. Since then, and after the act protecting badgers, TB had become endemic.
"There are over 28,000 cattle being slaughtered annually for TB. It is absolutely crazy," Mr Cozens said.
"I have been through 12 years of being continually under restriction (for TB). It is so demoralising. Since about 1972 I have lost over 120 cattle. I reckon it has cost me £15,000 a year."
Gloucestershire police were patrolling this weekend to reassure communities concerned about clashes over the cull. A video produced in Gloucester was released online this weekend. In it, campaigners vow to stop the killing of badgers and they are pictured patrolling the countryside.