Herefordshire gets Sett for Badger Cull

Hundreds of people marched through Hereford at the end of November to raise awareness of the controversial badger cull coming to the ‘shire.

The government, with backing from the National Farmers Union (NFU), believe that shooting large numbers of badgers will reduce the incidence of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in cattle and its associated costs to the farming industry.

Pilot culls, which have already taken place in Somerset, Gloucestershire and Dorset, have proven to be an expensive failure. Analysis of the pilots by DEFRA, as well as a panel of independent experts, found a cost of £3,300 for each badger killed.

Evidence showed that the culls were ineffective and could even result in an increase in bTB. The pilot culls were also found to be inhumane with many badgers taking longer than 5 minutes to die.

Unfortunately the lobbying power of the NFU is so strong that the Tory government will do anything to keep their support, even when evidence proves that culls don’t work. And so they plan to extend the cull to Herefordshire.

Not all farmers are convinced by the NFU policy though. A Herefordshire beef farmer who wished to remain anonymous told the Heckler that farmers should do more to reduce bTB before blaming badgers.

“The cost to farmers from bTB is massive and threatens livelihoods but many farmers aren’t helping themselves. TB infected cows should always be quarantined but often aren’t. Water troughs should be cleaned and put out of the reach of badgers but basic bio-security is not a priority to some farmers. On top of that we have a huge problem of lameness in the national herd making cows susceptible to all sorts of illness.”

This point of view is unpopular with the Government and NFU who’d rather paint those opposed to the cull as ‘extremists’.

Anyone who took part in the march through Hereford would have seen a diverse group of people brought together in opposition to the scapegoating of badgers.

Organisers of the march hope that people will join them to lawfully and peaceful protest to stop the cull. Herefordshire Badger Group will be coordinating efforts to oppose the cull.

Luther Blissett

Hereford Badger Group

Photo courtesy of Simon Gardener


Campaign profile: Three Counties Hunt Saboteurs

HunterThree Counties Hunt Saboteurs work across cover Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire using non-violent direct action to stop hunting.

It is widely acknowledged that the Hunting Act 2004 is not being enforced and saboteurs and monitors up and down the country are out every week, several times a week helping the hunted escape and gathering evidence.

Their tactics are very simply to stop hounds hunting the fox or hare, either by foiling the scent of the hunted animal using citronella or ‘rating’ the hounds: getting between fox or hare and the pack and telling them off using a deep voice and cracking homemade whips (hounds are trained to stop if someone cracks a whip). ‘Sabs’ also do this if the hounds are running into danger; one sab recently stopped a pack as they ran towards the M50.

For the last few years Three Counties Hunt Saboteurs have been embroiled with others in the fight against the badger cull in the Gloucestershire zone. Among other work this has included sett surveying and checking, being out every night during both active culls, speaking to the media and coordinating work across a large part of the zone.

For two years running the government have failed abysmally to reach their cull targets in Gloucestershire directly because of the efforts of numerous anti-cull groups and individuals. They are now resurveying and checking familiar territories and finding lots of badger activity and new setts.

Despite the heavy workload that came with the badger cull, the group also managed to sabotage some fox cub hunts at the same time.

When the cull ended in late October it was back to sabbing the fox hunts exclusively and they managed about 80 days in the field against hunts this season, concentrating most on the Cotswold Vale farmers’ hunt, and the Ledbury and Ross Harriers hunts, all of whom have a considerable amount of country in the cull zone.

During their sabbing work they have seen lots of blocked badger setts, dig outs, hounds all over main roads, a couple of kills and met landowners sick of being disturbed by the hunt.

The group confront terriermen if they are trying to dig out or bolt the hunted fox and they have stopped them from doing this a few times this season. Badger setts are often targeted by them.
They have been on the receiving end of violent attacks from hunters and their supporters but the abuse is mostly just verbal, as well as having their vehicles blocked. Most hunt followers ignore them, however, and some are quite happy to pass the time of day.

“We are there to do a job and we are having a massive impact in the area. As the hunting season ends, preparation for stopping the cull begins,” said a group spokesperson.

BOYCOTT CIRCUS MONDAO: Protest at travelling circus

Circus Mondao camelsLocal people are planning to stage a demonstration at a travelling circus tomorrow (Wednesday) in response to their use of domestic and exotic animals.

Circus Mondao, who have returned to Hereford for 11 shows over six days, are one of only two circuses in the country to controversially still use animals in their acts, including reindeer, camels and zebras.

But many local people aren’t happy and have pledged to boycott the circus in response.

Last month Circus Mondao were featured in a Sunday Express article that highlighted the cruelty faced by circus animals.

“As well as the camels, two reindeer and two zebras as well as horses, a donkey and a dog, are performing at Circus Mondao, one of only two circuses in Britain to hold a licence.

“Jan Creamer, chief executive officer of ADI, said: ‘The public is in support of a ban, parliament is overwhelmingly in favour of a ban, yet the government refuses to take the simple and more economic option to prevent further suffering.

“‘As our photographic evidence shows, there are still camels and other animals being locked in trailers and taken on the road and then left in cramped pens. Camels are large animals who need space to move around, to graze.’

“Yesterday the pair were kept largely inside a 16ft by 16ft pen during Circus Mondao’s show in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire. Only one of them was involved in a small parade at the start.

“Neither of the reindeer, which share a tent with the camels, was involved though a zebra was brought in to give rides to children during the interval and at one point a dog rode on the back of a donkey.”

Circus organisers claim their animals are well looked after and, according to Circus Mondao’s website, that is their “main concern”.

“They are the last to be loaded and the first to be unloaded at the next site … They are given water, hay nets and new beds to roll around in.”

Indeed, an inspection by Defra last February concluded that Circus Mondao’s standards were, on the whole, high.

The issue for animal rights campaigners however is not one of welfare but one of captivity. These animals face a life on the road and are given little space to move around in.

We visited the circus site at the racecourse today to find an electric-fenced area of several ‘paddocks’ that in total were not much bigger than a short-course swimming pool. When the animals are not kept locked in stables or cages this is their only space to roam.

The use of animals in circuses is outdated and must be stopped.

We call on our readers to boycott Circus Mondao’s Hereford performances.

PROTEST: Wednesday 2nd April, Hereford Racecourse from 6.30pm.

WATCH: The Captive Animals’ Protection Society went undercover to produce this video showing the atrocious conditions circus animals are kept in.

Support the Purple Poppy appeal

Animal Aid launched the purple poppy appeal in 2007 to commemorate the millions of animal victims of war, as they are rarely mentioned in remembrance ceremonies.


Strong navigation instincts and incredible stamina have made dogs and pigeons popular as battlefield messengers. Despite being a small target, many thousands of messenger pigeons have been killed. Of nearly 17,000 pigeons used in World War I, fewer than one in eight returned. And little loyalty was shown to them. In 1914 the head of the Belgian Pigeon Service burnt 2,500 pigeons alive, rather than risk them being captured and used by the enemy. Dogs were not afforded much better treatment. Training was terrifying, and many who did not make the grade were shot ‘for being useless’. In Vietnam, 5,000 dogs served with the American troops but only 150 returned home. The rest were abandoned to fend for themselves when the troops moved on.

Weapons research is another area of concern to Animal Aid. Pigs are a particularly popular choice for weapons research. In one experiment at Porton Down, ten female Large White pigs were used to test the effects of Phosgene, a highly toxic gas. The animals were anaesthetised and exposed to the gas for varying lengths of time. Most died from severe lung damage. Those who survived were euthanised at the end of the experiment. Pigs continue to be used in explosives tests. In a recent experiment 18 live pigs were anaesthetised and placed a few feet away from explosives, which were then detonated. The pigs were left to bleed until almost a third of their blood had drained from their bodies, to see how long they could then be kept alive.

Animals do not start wars, and they do not create weaponry. And yet, because humans do, they are made to suffer in war zones and laboratories across the world. At the very least, these hidden victims of war deserve to be remembered and respected. Animal Aid continues to campaign against the use of animals in warfare experiments.

What you can do:

  • Order a purple poppy to commemorate animal victims of war
  • Order a purple poppy enamel badge
  • Order a poppy sales pack
  • Sign our petition urging the government to ban warfare experiments on animals
  • Order copies of our purple poppy leaflet to distribute
  • Request a free copy of our booklet ‘Animals: the hidden victims of war’
  • Write to your MP to protest the use of animals in warfare experiments
  • Write to your local paper about the fate of animals caught up in human conflicts
  • Send for Animal Aid’s free poppy action pack


To order:


Tel: 01732 364546

Write to: Animal Aid, The Old Chapel, Bradford Street, Tonbridge, Kent, TN9 1AW

Animal Aid Hereford is a local group who formed in 2011 to raise awareness of animal rights issues in Herefordshire. They are part of the national Animal Aid charity. They have organised a variety of events such as car boot sales to raise funds and an Animal Charities Fayre. They have also worked with other local groups to organise demonstrations against visiting animal circuses, and have tried to raise awareness of issues that are important to them.


Badger cull saboteurs: ‘We will put ourselves between the bullets and the badgers’

As the badger cull gets closer to beginning, anti-cull activists are stepping up their efforts to stop the slaughter. In the last few weeks there has been a national march in London which attracted a couple of thousand people, daily sett surveying in the west Gloucestershire and west Somerset areas to map the locations of where the shooting will take place and ‘walk-ons’ at shooting estates and farms involved in the cull. On Friday a piece in the Independent featured local activists from the Three Counties Hunt Saboteurs,who put across their case and challenge accusations from elements of the media and the pro-cull and hunting communities.

Anti-cull activists patrol part of the cull zone, at the Forthampton shooting estate in Gloucestershire

Lynn, a 46-year-old midwife, finds a novel way to fill her days off. The one-time hunter is now a hunt saboteur who finds herself at the centre of the Government’s controversial badger cull. She splits her time between maternity wards and patrolling country estates of Worcestershire.

She is just one of an estimated 700 saboteurs who are fighting the plan to use licensed marksmen to shoot around 5,000 badgers in two pilot cull zones in Gloucestershire and Somerset. Around 500 of them are prepared to trespass on property to disrupt the cull.  “Obviously at night we’ll be finding the marksmen and putting ourselves between the bullets and the badgers,” Lynn told The Independent.

The badger cull row tearing up the countryside shows no sign of dissipating. While ministers argue that a cull is necessary to curb the spread of tuberculosis in cattle; critics argue that the cull is unethical or scientifically and economically flawed.

The coalition of opponents might be diverse – it includes Queen guitarist Brian May, TV presenter David Attenborough, and some prominent scientists – but it is the hunt saboteurs who stand accused of directing a “reign of terror” on farmers.

But Lynn believes they have been unfairly smeared. “The typical stereotypical image of the hunt sab is someone dressed head-to-toe in black, someone who doesn’t work, a 20-something-year-old male, but that’s absolute nonsense. The farming industry makes us out to be terrorists, or all evil people, but we’re individuals,” she said.

Lynn, who has a number of animal rights convictions for her involvement in anti-hunting and anti-vivisection campaigns, founded the group 3 Counties Hunt Saboteurs, last year. She gave up hunting after she saw some “terrible things” done to foxes, deer, hares and mink. She said that “very committed” new people were joining the “sabs”, or saboteurs, and scouring the fields straight from work.

“We’re seeing doctors, teachers, all sorts of people,” said Lynn, who can spend up to 50 hours a week checking badger setts, organising volunteers, or doing outreach. She also works as a midwife on a shift basis at a local hospital, usually at night. “I’m actually quite open about things,” she said. “Some of my colleagues do know, just as I am aware of what they do out of work.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Adrian Tudway, national co-ordinator for domestic extremism at the Association of Chief Police Officers, told the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) last year that clashes between protesters and cullers could pose “clear potential harm to public safety”. He added that there was “some potential for unlawful direct action, disorder and criminality” if the cull went ahead.

This week it emerged that officers policing the culls have carried out “wargames” with animal rights activists and cullers to simulate confrontations that might occur. Inspector Mark Ravenscroft of Gloucestershire Police said enforcing the cull remained a “big concern.” He stressed that the force will “allow people to bend the law to protest peacefully” by allowing a short protest on a highway, for example, to stop a group blocking the road all day.

But Elaine, a 49-year-old social care worker, who has volunteered as a hunting sab for over 25 years, said saboteurs “were not aggressors”. The Herefordshire-born activist treads a thin line between horse-owning country enthusiast and animal-rights crusader.

“I ride, I have my own horses, and I have drag hunted, but I was brought up to love and respect animals,” she said. “I don’t feel the need to go out in a balaclava. Work knows what I’m like and they don’t mind.”

She denied sabs were using intimidating techniques and dismissed claims that by trespassing, she could be breaching the law. “Whatever [the cull] is doing is 100 times worse that what I’m doing. When it comes to saving lives, if I have to tread off a footpath to do it, it’s worth it,” she said.

Michael, who is in his late sixties and has seven grandchildren, wants to help stop the cull. The retired builder lives in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, and has been involved in animal rights for 50 years. The former trustee of a wildlife rescue centre said: “This unscientific experiment they’re doing is wrong. I’ll help as much as I can; [the grandchildren] are right behind me. I spend four out of five days a week surveying and mapping sites, and checking setts aren’t baited. We’ve definitely got public support.”

A Defra spokesperson said: “People have a right to protest but this must be carried out within the law. The pilot culls are a legal and lawful activity and it is wholly unacceptable that those involved should be subject to intimidation or be a target for criminal activity.”

Originally posted in the Independent.