Somerset cull protesters set up new Camp Badger

Jay Tiernan Jay Tiernan from Stop the Cull said there was "no issue" with the new Camp Badger site

Badger cull protesters in Somerset have set up a new camp in the county after being told to leave their original site by the landowner.

Campaigners have all vacated the temporary Camp Badger site near Watchet where they had been since Saturday.

Jay Tiernan, from Stop the Cull, told the BBC there was "no issue" with the new camp, which he says is located on the edge of the cull zone.

However, he would not confirm the exact location of the new base.

Protesters had suggested they could move to land owned by the Crown.

"It is an overgrown field at the moment and there is a lot of work to do before people start arriving," Mr Tiernan said.

"We have lots of people coming over the weekend who are ready to work."

'Having an impact'

Up to 12 people had been on the first protest camp at the former Doniford Halt site, which comprised of cars, tents and minivans.

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) confirmed on Tuesday that a badger cull was under way in Somerset.

England's badger cull

  • Badgers are being shot by marksmen in the west of England as part of measures to protect cattle from bovine tuberculosis (TB)
  • The marksmen are shooting the badgers at night after putting food such as peanuts outside their setts. This method has not been formally tested before
  • Badgers are thought to pass on the disease to cattle through their urine, faeces or through droplet infection, in farmyards or in pastures
  • However, the extent of their role in the spread of bovine TB is not clear
  • According to one newspaper report, cage-trapping badgers for vaccination (or shooting) costs about £2,500 per hectare, whereas shooting them as they run freely costs about £200

Government agency Natural England, which is overseeing the cull, has refused to disclose how many badgers have been shot so far.

Mr Tiernan said the plan was to get the "infrastructure" of the new camp sorted before planning the group's next move, but setting up and manning observation sites within the cull zone was a possibility.

"I feel things are going really well at the moment," he added.

"All we can do is have a strong presence during the cull in those areas. I'm fairly confident we're having an impact."

About 5,000 badgers are expected to be killed over a six-week period in parts of west Somerset and west Gloucestershire.

Supporters say the cull is necessary to tackle bovine TB, which they say is spread by infected badgers, and could make a meaningful contribution to controlling the disease.

However, opponents say the cull is inhumane and will be ineffective. They have fought the plans since the test areas were revealed last year.

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