Image credit: @derbyshireagainsthecull

Action against the intensive badger cull continued throughout October. Many speculate about the political interests of culling badgers in the future, following recent statements from politicians but, even if it were to be ‘phased out’ by a successive government post-election, much of the damage has already been done as 210,000 badgers already murdered since 2013. Besides, this has not stopped the 29 zones from continuing this year, which has maximum target of 24,000 individuals, and is unlikely going to make a difference to the government licenses that have been issued for the upcoming years. These figures are incredibly bleak but they could be much higher if it wasn’t for the action being taken against cage trapping and free-shooting. The desperation to kill has been quite obvious with Underground Badger Syndicate smashing cages soon after they had been replaced, multiple times. This repetitive behaviour was also seen by Derbyshire Against The Cull, joined by neighbouring hunt sabotage groups, who have stopped the same shooters night in, night out. Hunt saboteurs elsewhere in the country have responded to cages they have found, sometimes while out stopping a cub hunt, showing that anyone can produce results by checking up on a local sett. Intensive culling is intended to be carried out over a 6-week period but licenses in multiple zones have been granted extensions, which is a strong indication that direct action is causing major problems for badger killers.

Proposals for badger culling in Northern Ireland have been foiled following a judicial review spear headed by Wild Justice and Northern Ireland Badger Group. Though there is likely to be further pressure from Northern Ireland’s Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs to appease wildlife killing farmers, there is a relief that for now that the plans to kill 4,000 badgers a year aren’t going ahead.

Fox and Hare hunts have continued to feel the pressure as they attempt to hunt fox cubs and leverets in preparation for the upcoming main hunting season. Sabotages groups across the UK have been relentless, with some active multiple times of the week, including West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs who were out 6 days in just one and Mendip Hunt Sabs who disrupted three hunts in one day. Later in the month, some hunts had their ‘opening meets’, which mark the start of the main hunting season, such as the Pimpernel Beagles who were forced to pack up on the first day of the hare hunting season following the arrival of saboteurs from North Dorset. Two saboteurs from this group were also targeted at their homes and had vehicles attacked, following the groups’ sustained pressure on the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale Hunt. They responded by stating ‘as history has shown, violence never makes sabs go away’ and that they continue undeterred.  Alongside other sabotage groups as well as Wildlife Guardian, they also have targeted stag hunts throughout the month.

New legislation in Scotland came into affect on 3rd October, which is believed to close loopholes in a previous law and effectively outlaw hunting with packs of hounds. Though it is important to understand the limitations of political reform and that the state is not the answer, this legislation has undoubtedly been a disaster for hunting. The Lanarkshire & Renfrewshire Hunt, who have existed for 250 years, have already folded while the Fife Foxhounds have claimed to switch to drag hunting; where hounds hunt a genuine non-animal based scent, unlike trial hunting. Glasgow Hunt Sabs stated: “Our sabs along with our predecessors have worked tirelessly for decades, working towards this momentous day.” Though sabotage groups played a considerable of part in this, this achievement is an example of how communities and wider society, using a variation of methods, can pressure the government to make change. The behaviour and longevity of the 8 remaining hunts in Scotland is yet to be seen, and will not go unchallenged.

Paul Allman, a hunt saboteur from Stockport Monitors who was sentenced to 20 weeks in prison, has been released. Messages of support and solidarity to him via the group are still appreciated as adjusting to life after prison can be difficult. His incarceration should be a reminder that the legal system is ultimately not on our side, even if there we have the odd legal victory. The state is not the answer. We are.


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