Gun shots heard during West Gloucestershire badger cull
Shots "unconnected" to the badger cull were heard last night by marksmen believed to be shooting other types of wildlife and taking advantage of the culling period.
Gunmen were said to be "lamping" in areas around Upleadon and Highnam, a technique associated with shooting foxes and rabbits by "shining red lights" to spot animals.
Elsewhere, nine cages were discovered at an undisclosed area, while sightings of a "Land Rover type" vehicle were reported in the culling area in West Gloucestershire.
It's thought they were checking bait laid out to attract willing badgers.
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The cull entered its second day this morning and could stretch for another six weeks.
Alexa Forbes, campaign co-ordinator for Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting (Gabs), said that there was a concern for all wildlife during the culling period.
Alexa said: "There is a lot of wildlife crime in the country and some people think the cull is a good opportunity [to go undetected].
"If we were to hear shots, we would first call the police to check that it's a legitimate cull... and stay in the area for as long as possible.
"They cannot shoot for as long as they [the marksmen] know we're here.
"More people are getting involved," she continued. "We had about 50 join our groups during the first night and more are expected.
"Most of the people coming out so far have been a lot older. Around 60 to 70 per cent are retired but alot more younger people are getting involved."
Among them, 18-year-olds Tom Pittaway and Aaron Ridgway, from Gloucester, scouted fields in Upleadon and Lissington.
Tom said: "Obviously, the more people that get involved the better but, the more younger people help, the more likely their social groups will hear about what's going on.
"It's very humbling."
Aaron added: "I found out about the camapigns through Facebook. I can understand where some farmers are coming from [about the cull] but I just don't think they know how affective it's going to be.
"I try to tell my friends about what we're doing but don't seem that informed about it. If more younger people join [the campaign] now, it will set an example for generations to come."
Marksmen are scanning badger setts and baiting areas to check for activity.
There were reports that "alot of activity" was heard in the Tibberton area but no shootings have yet been confirmed.
Near Brand Green, a vehicle thought to be a Land Rover pulled up to a gate cut off for public access at 9pm.
Alexa said they may have been checking for badger bait, such as peanuts.
Giving a commentary to the event, she said: "We're just waiting to see if they are pre-baiting. He has got out of his car and is checking the gate.
"He must've seen us because it seems he has changed his mind and is moving on. That's interesting."
The group met with an independent campaigner during the night who said he was deliberately "upsetting" baiting areas.
As we walked through the darkness, the group suddenly stopped as they saw flashlights in the distance.
It's hard to tell whether some lights are connected to the cull so every flicker is checked.
In a somewhat dramatised yell, a voice then bellowed "We're on your side" to make his presence be known.
The voice belonged to 66-year-old John, who would not give his full name but said he had travelled with a group from Cheshire to disrupt the cull and that a farmer had told him that he wasn't welcome because he was there for "the wrong reasons".
A campaigner called Sean later said that he felt culling badgers to prevent to spread of Bovine tuberculosis (TB) was merely "superstitious".
He said: "I think it is no better than when people used to be killed to stop the spread of so-called 'witch-craft'.
"It's very pleasing to see a diverse group of people out patrolling the areas. It's very heartwarming and hopefully we will do something to disrupt the cull."
Sue Nicholson, 57, from Nailsworth, said it was "vital" people persisted in their campaign against the cull.
Police confirmed there have been no arrests during the night relating to the cull.
Campaign groups will continue to patrol culling and baiting areas tonight.