Mood 'gets ugly' in cull zone as tensions mount
A prominent member of the anti-badger cull movement, monitoring activity in the Somerset cull zone, says he fears there could be an accident as anger mounts on both sides.
Retired RAF officer and former British Airways Captain Ian Mortimer, of Bridport, Dorset, is making almost daily visits to the culling area where marksmen are more than half way through a cull of badgers, to determine whether shooting free running badgers can be effective and humane.
But Mr Mortimer told the Western Morning News that the mood in the area was changing.
"It is getting quite dangerous," he said. "I was talking to a policeman last night and I have started to write a letter to the Chief Constable where I am basically saying it is getting very nasty.
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"I don't believe anybody will get shot but people going around with guns should have calm, clear heads. I have seen ridiculous things going on and heard lots of reports of the shooters driving vehicles at people, stopping just short of them and driving away."
He conceded it was not only some of the contracted marksmen who he thought were contributing to an increasingly ugly mood, but some of the protesters too – although he stressed those anti-cull demonstrators he knew were behaving peacefully.
"I don't doubt both sides are involved but it is getting more and more dangerous up there," he said.
As tensions mount in Somerset, it emerged that a further three people, thought to be badger cull protesters, have been arrested in the other pilot area in Gloucestershire.
Police confirmed that a 52-year-old woman, from the United States, was arrested with a 20-year-old man from Walsall and another woman, 26, from Croydon, in the early hours of yesterday. They were detained at 1.45am on suspicion of aggravated trespass.
Four other people have already been arrested and bailed on suspicion of theft and aggravated trespass.
Meanwhile, the Green Party, at its annual conference, voted overwhelmingly in favour of an immediate end to the badger cull pilots.
Members backed the motion which said: "The lack of scientific evidence that culling badgers will reduce the incidence of bovine TB, the moral questions around killing large numbers of our indigenous wildlife and the costs associated with a programme that even if 'successful' will only reduce the incidence in cattle by 16%, are all reasons enough to halt the killing."
Vet Caroline Allen, the party's spokesman on animal issues, said the trials "should have never gone ahead" adding that the cull was "unscientific, unethical and will cause great suffering".
She said: "We understand the devastating effects on farmers of this disease, which is why we are calling for the funds currently being wasted on this fiasco to be instead urgently invested to find a genuine solution."