Update: Campaigners out on second night of badger cull in Gloucestershire
Anti-badger cull protesters are out in Gloucestershire again this evening.
Reporter Steven Impey is out with them in the Newent area.
12:35am: Read a full report from tonight here on this website tomorrow morning, with video
12:33am @steimpey: Some #badgercull campaigners dispersing but many more continuing through the night. No confirmed "shooting" yet"
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12.04am: @WeAreChangeGlos tweets: "Site 1 suspected shooters or 3rd party in woods. Investigating dogs also. Site 2 confirmed shooters." Again, no independent verification on this.
11:52pm: @WeAreChangeGlos tweets: "Sighting of "shooters" confirmed..." No independent verification of this, however.
11:51pm: @steimpey: alerted by #badgercull campaigners about one single shot heard near Highnam. Not cull related, more likely "lamping"
@steimpey: Lamping is term for shooting wildlife such as foxes and rabbits I'm told. Unusual at nighttime however #badgercull @glosecho @GlosCitizen
@janh1: "yes, people had been seen with red lights by the Leadon doing just that."
11:29pm: Anti-cull group We Are Change Glos tweets: "@WeAreChangeGlos: Possible "third party" incursion close to one of our static observation points. #Gloucestershire #badgercull"
11:07: @steimpey: #badgercull campaigner known as Sean says cull to stop spread of TB "no more superstitious than killing witches"
10:55: Reports that nine traps have been seen in Gloucestershire. Location not disclosed.
10:30pm: Campaigners hear about activity in Tibberton, following reports of "lots of activity."
10pm: @steimpey: Moving south towards Upleadon to continue patrols with #badger cull campaigners
9:45pm @steimpey: Range Rover seen stopping in Brand Green near Newent. Campaigners sure he was 'checking bait' at #badger cull site
9:30pm: steimpey: "We're on your side!": group spot fellow anti #badger cull campaigner in Glos who makes his presence known. No shots heard
7.47: @steimpey: #badger cull protestors congregating in Newent and surrounding area ahead of tonight's patrol. Stay in touch for updates
MORE than 300 campaigners and activists were out in force in Gloucestershire last night.
Groups including Stop the Cull, Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting, and We are Change Gloucestershire gathered at Elderfields, Tewkesbury yesterday evening.
More than 2,500 are expected to be killed in the second round of the badger cull in the country, after the first in Somerset last week.
Some of the groups’ members have been at the site from as early as 7am, organising patrols around the villages and keeping an eye for possible signs of shooting.
This is the second night of the cull in Gloucestershire.
Badgers are known to come out from their setts at dawn and dusk, and efforts were redoubled as more people turned up to support their groups.
Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting organised various wounded badger patrols in the area, identifying setts and keeping a look-out.
With more than 25 people in each group, they used public footpaths to look for any injured badgers.
Mark Jones, veterinarian and executive director for the Humane Society International UK, was also on the rounds to care for any wounded badgers.
Stop the Cull went on their own patrols to look out for possible signs of shooting, with We are Change Gloucestershire supporting the former.
Rumours started around 9.30pm about shooters being found at a nearby farm preparing for the cull.
Most of the campaigners set off in the direction of Corse Hill farm, only to find it gated up. News then filtered through about shooters at Hawthorns, although that proved to be fake.
More people started turning up as the night wore on, forming even more wounded badger patrols.
Police officers spoke to members of the public throughout the evening, as Operation Themis got underway fully.
Gloucestershire Police confirmed there has been no arrests anywhere in the county with regards to the cull, and encourage people to keep safe.
A spokesman for Gloucestershire Police said: “The badger cull is a Defra policy that is being implemented by private companies under licence by Natural England.
“It will be up to them to determine where and when it starts. Our operation is aimed at keeping all our communities safe and feeling safe, dealing with any incidents of crime and public disorder and facilitating people's rights to protest.
"Our role will to be operationally independent, impartial, even-handed and fair to everyone whatever their views, interest or involvement in the pilot scheme."
The RSPCA said today it was appalled after learning that hundreds of badgers are now being shot in parts of Gloucestershire as well as Somerset as part of the pilot badger culls.
RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant said: “We have real doubts about how humane the methods being used to kill the badgers are – and it is very possible that many of these iconic British mammals could be suffering, seriously injured, rather than killed.
"Consequently, we are paying very close attention to the way the cull is being conducted and will investigate any reports of breaches of the licence where badgers suffer.
"We also fear that some may take the law into their own hands by killing badgers under the cover of the cull. This is a criminal offence and we will work with the police to bring such individuals to justice".
The RSPCA is expecting high numbers of calls about badgers during the cull period and has prepared by setting up a dedicated emergency line for calls about badgers.
If a member of the public finds an injured or dead badger around the cull area the RSPCA ask them to call our emergency line on 0300 1234 999 and press the option for the dedicated badger line.
It is important to remember that if the badger is alive, whether conscious or unconscious, it can cause injury to people and should be treated with caution. For their own safety people should not attempt to confine or handle any badgers themselves.
See www.rspca.org.uk where there is further information about what you can do during this cull.
Humane Society International/UK's Director Mark Jones (a vet and Gloucestershire resident) accompanied around 40 people who took part in Wounded Badger Patrols yesterday evening and well into the night.
Although the patrols did not directly witness any shootinglast night, there were several sightings of vehicles and lights being used in the proximity of known badger setts, and the police were out in force.
Mark said: "We are deeply saddened that this unjustified and unscientific badger cull has now come to Gloucestershire.
"The Secretary of State Mr Paterson was quoted yesterday as saying that ‘everything is going according to plan’. But what we hear from the ground in Somerset is talk of chaos, confusion and carnage.
"I have no doubt that many thousands of badgers are now set to suffer in the county I call home, for the sake of a policy that has no scientific basis, will at best make a marginal difference to TB in cattle, and which could very well make things worse.
“I was proud to join last night’s Wounded Badger Patrol. These are ordinary, law-abiding people who are concerned at what’s going on in their countryside, and wish to express their concern by legal and peaceful means. In doing so, they represent the concerns of many thousands of ordinary folk across the west country and beyond. The Gloucestershire and West Mercia police were also out in force, and while they were civil and friendly, they did insist on filming us as we were going about our business, which seemed entirely unnecessary and made some people feel uncomfortable.”
The NFU announced that culling had begun last and a Defra spokesman said: “Scientists have agreed that culling badgers where bovine TB is widespread reduces the level of disease.
"Many species can be infected with bovine TB, but only cattle and badgers are effective in spreading the disease. If we had a vaccine for cattle we would use it, but it is currently illegal under European law. We are working with the European Commission to make a vaccine available but we know this is at least 10 years away and we cannot wait while this disease continues to march across England.”
Wildlife film-maker and TV presenter Simon King has called on the Government to put pressure on Europe to allow a trial of TB vaccines for cattle, warning that the controversial badger cull could do more harm than good.
Culling of badgers to tackle tuberculosis in cattle got under way last week, with around 5,000 badgers set to be killed over a six-week period in two pilot culls in west Somerset and west Gloucestershire.
The pilot culls aim to assess if culling can be done effectively, safely and humanely, with plans to roll out the scheme more widely in areas which are hotspots for TB in cattle.
Mr King, Somerset-based president of the Wildlife Trusts, accused ministers of selectively picking facts from a major ten-year study in order to back up the cull to appease farmers, even though the research concluded culling could not make a meaningful contribution to tackling bovine TB in cattle.
“The report was based partly on the results of killing 11,000 badgers to establish whether this could make a meaningful contribution to the control of bovine TB (bTB) in England. The unequivocal conclusion was that it could not,” he said.
“The problem is TB in cattle – affecting a massive industry and individual farmers. The problem is not badgers. The fact is that this devastating disease can be carried by virtually any warm-blooded animal, including hedgehogs, rats, domestic cats, rabbits and so on. The vast majority of badgers in England are bTB free,” he argued.
He said cattle vaccinations and a test to differentiate between which animals have been vaccinated and which have the disease have been developed, but cannot be used under EU regulations. He wants the UK to be given an exemption to start trials.
The badger cull is “proceeding to plan” and organisers are pleased with progress, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has said.
In a written statement to the Commons, Mr Paterson insisted the decision to pilot a badger cull was “not one that has been taken lightly, but it is based on the best available scientific evidence and the experience of other countries”.
Were you at the cull zone last night (Tuesday)? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
All the quotes, reaction, further insight, including pictures and videos, of the first night later today (Wednesday) and in tomorrow's papers.