Meet the peaceful professionals behind the badger cull protests
PEACEFUL professionals have revealed themselves to be at the beating heart of the county’s Wounded Badger Patrol.
Couples from among the patrol’s growing membership of around 300 stepped into the limelight to counter descriptions of themselves as a rent-a-mob.
Retired local government officer Nick Berry and his wife Jeanne, a retired human resources manager, along with firefighter Steve Price and his wife Vanessa, a parish councillor, spoke of their passion for protecting badgers during the cull in the west of Gloucestershire.
The Berrys, from Slad in Stroud, and Prices, who live across the district in Whiteshill, said their concerns were for the wellbeing of badgers now specially licensed marksmen were out at night shooting the normally protected animals.
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The Government has permitted the trial slaughter in its fight with farmers against bovine TB. They allege that badgers spread TB to cattle. But Mrs Price, 43, who is a retail assistant and also a school governor, said: “The Wounded Badger Patrol’s aim is to peacefully patrol the cull area and if a wounded badger is found the patrol will seek proper veterinary assistance.
“Our concerns are for the wellbeing of one of our country’s most wonderful and protected species during this awful time.”
Mrs Price said patrol supporters were neither hippies nor a rent-a-mob.
“We are just ordinary people who could not sit back and do nothing,” she said.
Her husband, 41, said the patrollers, who carry torches and wear high visibility vests, use whistles only to warn marksmen of their presence.
“Why protect something and then say now we’re going to shoot it? I feel outraged,” said Mr Price. “The badgers were there before us.”
Mrs Berry, who watches badgers in setts in her own woods, two years ago began the Stroud 100 campaign to get 100 landowners to sign up to banning culling on their land. Far more joined, including local councils and animal lover, author Jilly Cooper.
From there, Mrs Berry moved to Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting and now the patrol, for whom anti-cull campaigner, rock star Brian May, signed a hi-vi for fund raising sale.
Setts were surveyed by the group, legal footpaths identified and night patrols mounted in the campaign.
“We won’t trespass,” Mrs Berry said.
All four have been out at night on patrol several times. Mr Berry urged more people to take part.
“We are law abiding,” he said. “People are not gong to get into trouble, we need map readers and the issue is that it seems wrong that the Government won’t let local people know when there are marksmen out in their local areas shooting with high velocity rifles that can travel three miles.”