Killing badgers to ‘save’ dairy cows is perverse. The government must stop treating animals as commodities and end this futile massacre
By Jay Tiernan
People's reasons for fighting the badger cull in Somerset vary, but for me it is simple: as a vegan I believe all animals should be wild. The killing of badgers to somehow “save” dairy and beef cows is perverse. The dairy cow already leads a short, miserable life of as few as five years compared with a natural life span of 25. That they are forced into a cycle of constant pregnancies and separation from their calves to produce milk is sad enough. But for an iconic, much-loved wild mammal to be annihilated, with the justification being to eke out a few more months of “production”, is anathema to me.
The people responsible for this cull range from low-paid shooters on the ground to the highest levels of government, and all share one characteristic: they see animals as commodities. The animals have no intrinsic worth to them other than money in the bank. That's how they have managed to come up with such a crazy scheme – they see nothing other than numbers and pound signs, while the rest of us see a pointless massacre. Although I am angry about what they do, I pity them. A life devoid of the compassion, love and awe that I feel for nature must be a miserable one.
What the National Farmers' Union and Tories have achieved with this policy is to reinvigorate the animal rights movement and particularly hunt saboteurs, whose numbers have swelled massively since the culls began. Indeed, five new saboteur groups have been created bordering Somerset alone, and there are huge anti-cull social media communities that inform, educate and inspire. As a result, the animal rights movement has never been stronger.
What motivates so many people from so many walks of life to come together and fight this futile slaughter is simple: the badgers have no one else. Last year's culls were officially “ineffective” and we know with certainty that many innocent lives were saved by a diverse range of non-violent direct action.
The shooting of cage-trapped badgers starts at dawn, so as cull saboteurs we have to begin even earlier. Our first objective is to locate the sound of shotguns at cages we haven’t yet found. Work then continues throughout the day, looking for traps that have been set that morning. Then the night work begins, with cull saboteurs combing the lanes and fields, hunting the hunters.
Our methods this year have changed, and through careful planning we have achieved an even spread of protesters across the killing zone. With up to 300 protesters in each zone, we are confident of achieving maximum disruption. Our biggest enemy is a lack of sleep – camp badger is highly caffeinated.
The cull is due to end on 20 October, which I hope goes down in history as the last ever day of badger culling. To ensure this is the case, we have planned a political campaign in 40 key marginal seats for the general election in May 2015. Posters, leaflets, petitions and a massive range of social media activity will deliver one simple message from the badgers: vote the Tories out.
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