When the UK badger cull trials first began in 2013 I watched from home in disbelief as the government blindly ploughed ahead with their disastrous plan to tackle bovine TB by allowing marksmen with high velocity weapons and little training loose in the countryside of Somerset and Glouscestershire with a licence to kill our badgers. This was despite opposition from major animal organisations such as the RSPCA and The Badger Trust, and much scientific evidence to show badgers were not responsible for bTB in cattle.
I was a single mum to my 1 year old son with no one to help out with childcare and no idea how to help the plight of the badger other than to sit at home signing online positions and sharing news articles. I saw how groups of people emerged that were protesting against the cull and going out into the killing fields at night to help protect the badgers. I read reports of their work with admiration and donated what I could to the cull fighting funds.
By the following year sitting back while others did the hard work in the fields was no longer an option for me. I had to go and join them. My son was a year older and I was now able to arrange childcare. I found an online liftshare group and advertised that I would be driving to Somerset and offering spare seats in my car to anyone who would like to come, secretly hoping someone would take me up on the offer as I was full of nerves about going out of my comfort zone into a killing zone on my own. A lady contacted me wanting a lift so I arranged to pick her up and take her with me. That lady was Ama, a passionate and dedicated anti cull campaigner who spent the two hour journey telling me all the things I needed to know about what to expect and what we would be doing. We arrived in Somerset to the Williton car park meeting point to take part in Wounded Badger Patrol. Groups of people in high vis vests and waterproofs huddled with torches looking at maps, plotting their routes for the night. I was told this was a busy night as there was a celebrity in our midst, Bill Oddie had come along to join the patrols so extra people had turned up to patrol with the star.
We were put in a group and set off for a walk through the fields in search of injured badgers, suspicious or illegal activity or shooters themselves. As we walked the fields of Exmoor I realised I had fallen into a very diverse and friendly group, all united with the same passion for animals. As a bit of a towny, I had no experience of walking in the countryside so was taken aback by the beauty of walking under the starry night sky through fields of animals, and the unity I felt with this group of strangers. We found little activity to report that night but for me I still felt a great sense of satisfaction that I’d gone out and got involved and there was no question of whether I’d go again.
Since that night I have joined numerous groups in the fields of Somerset and now with this years devastating roll out to new areas, in both North and South Devon, my home turf.
My son, now age 4, understands that when mummy goes out at night its to save badgers. He has a great passion for animals and understands that badgers will get hurt if mummy doesn’t protect them from the baddies and has happily accompanied me giving out leaflet and on numerous peaceful protests demonstrating against the cull proudly chanting “save our badgers, stop the cull” at the top of his voice, whilst insisting on carrying my placard and having his face painted as a badger. I have made great friends in the fields and bonded with them over our shared passion for fighting for our badgers.
With all the new zones this year though, our groups and resources have been stretched more than ever and I’ve seen my friends look tired and burnt out from the many days and nights they’ve fitted into their daily lives around work and family commitments. We are fighting and we are saving many lives but we need more people on the ground joining us. I’ve found myself needing an altered role as now heavily pregnant with a baby due 5th October, my ability to walk in the fields is hampered so I’ve instead taken on car patrols, driving around the cull zones looking for suspicious activity, giving lifts to groups from one area to another and helping with admin. My inability to walk long distances has not meant I cannot be involved, and sitting home while the badgers sit in cage traps waiting to be shot is simply not an option for me. Badger patrols welcome people of all ages and abilities as there really is a role for everyone and everyone is needed right now to help us in the fight to save these beautiful innocent creatures. If you would be interested in taking part you can be guaranteed a warm and friendly welcome from your local group and I promise there is no better feeling than going out and knowing you saved a life. You can find your nearest badger group in the list below. Please join us before our badgers are pushed to extinction, only to realise that they were never guilty anyway.
Badger Cull Action Groups
DEVON AND CORNWALL AGAINST THE CULL
Web: Devon and Cornwall Against the Cull
HEREFORDSHIRE AGAINST THE CULL
DORSET WOUNDED BADGER PATROL
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
SOMERSET AGAINST THE BADGER CULL
GLOUCESTERSHIRE WOUNDED BADGER PATROL
GLOUCESTER BADGER OFFICE
NORTH COTSWOLD AGAINST THE CULL
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