Sunday, 3 September 2017

Taxpayers spend £500,000 on radios for badger cull marksmen

Police call for cull shooters to be given same hi-tech system they use – but activists buy counter-devices to disrupt shooting

Friday 25 August 2017 15.56 BSTLast modified on Friday 25 August 2017 22.00 BST

Hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ pounds have been spent on equipping badger cull marksmen with radios that link them directly to police, the Guardian has learned.

Police have advised the government to invest in the same communications system they use to make it easier for officers to get to conflicts with cull saboteurs in remote areas where the mobile phone signal is poor.

However, anti-cull activists plan to turn the tables on the marksmen by investing in devices that trace the signals produced by the radios, meaning they can pinpoint their position and disrupt shooting.

Another hi-tech tactic protesters are planning to use is deploying infra-red night vision on drones to hunt for marksmen and badgers caught in traps.

The government is expected to announce imminently that the cull will be expanded into new areas this autumn.

Almost 15,000 badgers have been killed since the first culling took place in Gloucestershire and Somerset in 2013. This year, protesters believe the cull will extend east to Wiltshire and north to Cheshire and a further 20,000 badgers killed.

Since the cull began, there has been tension between police and protesters over whether officers help keep shooters a step ahead of activists. The police insist they do not take sides but treat both even-handedly.

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