Today, the 1st June 2014, is a dark day for British badgers. It is the first day that licensing allows badgers to be culled in Gloucestershire and Somerset this year.
The licensing, extended from last year's cull allows for six consecutive weeks of shooting at any point between Sunday 1st June, and Saturday 31st January 2015.
Team Badger is doing all that is legally possible to challenge and prevent the cull, and Network for Animals are naturally playing our part. Each weekday next week, Monday to Friday, I will update this page with information about a grant I am making on behalf of Network For Animals Supporters, to protect badgers. I will also explain how as an individual, you can become further involved. I'm particularly looking forward to Friday, as it involves a wonderful long-term initiative created by Brian May!
We do not know when the six weeks of culling will start. It could be today. It could be later in the year. What I do know, is that up and down the UK, an incredible number of people oppose this cull, and united we have the power to stop it once and for all.
Day One: Operation Badger
Put simply, Operation Badger helps people like you and I prevent their local council from allowing culling on council owned land: There are already more than 100 petitions in existence, and successes are being reported.
Operation Badger is run by Norma and George Kearton, a motivated and friendly pair of animal lovers, who will help you set up and manage a petition in your local area. Find out more at www.b-r-a-v-e.co.uk/operationbadger today.
Day Two: Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting
Our second grant this week goes out to Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting, an organisation of people who I admire hugely. When the cull takes place, these brave individuals are out day and night, walking the paths of the cull zones as 'Wounded Badger Patrols' ready to help any injured badgers they find.
Their work is strictly legal, but can be cold, wet, tiring and indeed dangerous. Our grant of £1,500 will help purchase essential safety and monitoring equipment to help protect themselves, and keep a legal record of any law-breaking by marksmen in the cull zone.
I urge you to make contact and attend a patrol, even just once. Get more information at www.glosagainstbadgershooting.org.
Day Three: Somerset Badger Group Vaccination Project
Network For Animals' third grant of Badger Week cuts to the core of what I believe the anti-culling movement is about: Vaccination. I simply cannot understand why we are being told that shooting badgers is the answer to ending TB in cattle, when it is entirely possible to humanely vaccinate badgers against the disease.
We are granting £1,000 to Somerset Badger Group Vaccination Project, whose volunteer 'lay-vaccinators' provide a humane, low-cost alternative to killing badgers in-and-around the culling hotspots.
Our support helps realise their work during this vital year, with farmers in and around Somerset who are able to see past the propaganda of the government and National Farmers Union.
You can email for information about the project, becoming a volunteer helper, and to talk about promoting a similar project in your area.
Day Four: Somerset Badger Patrol
Our fourth badger grant this week goes to Somerset Badger Patrol: £1,500. Similarly to GABS, the organisation from day two, these amazing Somerset volunteers will be out day and night during the cull, fighting for any injured badgers that their Wounded Badger Patrols find.
Of course, like GABS, they're open to volunteers from outside their county. You'll need to arrange your own transport and a place to stay, but please get involved - The badgers need your support!
The voluntary work is strictly legal, but can be cold, wet, tiring and dangerous. Our grant helps purchase essential safety equipment, and monitoring equipment that is essential to keep a legal record of lawbreaking by marksmen in the cull zone.
Find out more about Somerset Badger Patrol through their Facebook page. Give them a like and get involved!
Day Five: Badger And Cattle Vaccination Initiative
Today is the final day of Network For Animals' Badger Week and we are proudly making one of the largest donations in our' history. The organisation we are supporting is the brainchild of Queen guitarist and incredibly committed badger activist Brian May.
Badgers (thankfully) are a difficult target for marksmen. They are smart, nocturnal and flighty. Repeatedly firing guns around their setts causes many to migrate. These two points make a mockery of the idea of culling badgers to protect cattle from TB: Some fleeing badgers inevitably carry TB, so mass shooting simply spreads the disease instead of containing it.
Vaccinating badgers is humane and inexpensive. Building 'herd immunity' means returning to an area of land and vaccinating for around five years. Given how long our government has dilly-dallied around finding a solution to bovine TB, five years really isn't a long time.
Today I am extremely proud to announce a £50,000 grant to Brian May's 'Badger And Cattle Vaccination Initiative', or BACVI for short.
It is BACVI's intention to become central in the funding and management of UK badger vaccination projects. They aim to develop a reputation for project management which appeals to farmers looking to vaccinate, and presents an inarguable case for vaccination to government.
BACVI also seeks to take badgers out of the TB equation completely, by removing EU barriers to directly vaccinate cattle. This would be a very welcome development in the eyes of badger lovers across the UK.
Please get involved by directing friends, family, and even farmers in your area to www.bacvi.co.uk.
On behalf of our supporters, this week Network For Animals has given £55,000 of grants to save badgers. I would like to thank every Network For Animals supporter who has taken the time to get involved with a badger project, or made a donation. It is your personal engagement with the anti-cull movement that will ultimately end this cull, and save badgers.
This week our supporters have generously donated £3,134. This is wonderful, and again I thank each and every person that has given. Clearly though, we have brought in far less than we have given out, and to keep fighting, it is vital that we address this. If you are able to make a donation today, even just a few pounds, please do.
For the animals