Wednesday, 4 September 2013

When the sun sets, the dark reality of badger culling emerges

We’re a week in to the badger-cull that is said to be taking place in West Somerset. As yet no official facts or figures relating to the operation have been released but WMN reporters have been out gauging the mood in the area...

The public, visible, normal face of West Somerset could be found on the shoreline at Minehead this weekend when thousands of people gathered in sunshine to witness the finish of the popular annual RNLI raft-race. It's a happy vision that belies the new, hidden, furtive and sinister side of the area which occurs after sundown several miles from the coast up in the hills.

For that is a zone of threat and, at night-times, even fear. A place where police helicopters hover at midnight; where roadblocks are set up without notice; where once- unpopulated nocturnal lanes are suddenly busy; where strangely clean Land Rovers lurk in gateways; where the gateways themselves are now chained and locked; where torchlight flickers in woods at two in the morning; and where – just occasionally – the sound of gunfire reverberates through the coombes.

Welcome to Badger-Cull-UK – land of anonymity and rumour. A place where locals won't go on record and where unknown people move about the byways at night because they're either trying to stop the cull, or because they are guarding those who've signed up to kill badgers.

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