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Outraged protesters vow to put marksmen off their aim

By Claire Hayhurst

Anti-cull campaigners have insisted they will be a powerful force and will halt the killing of badgers.

The protesters have been planning their tactics and a dozen camped through the night at Camp Badger in Somerset, following a candlelit vigil in Minehead last night.

The group, whose members have travelled from as far as Brighton and Derbyshire, plans to remain at the site for the six-week cull. They are running regular patrols around nearby countryside, where the cull is being trialled, to prevent marksmen from shooting badgers.

Camp Badger has been set up on private land with the permission of the owner and comprises of cars, a few tents and minivans.

Protesters have set up a camp fire and say locals are providing food, water and firewood. Carla, from Cornwall, said: "We are here to try to stop this – it is our one opportunity to do so.

"If we don't, the cull will spread nationwide in areas including Cornwall, where I am from. We are just normal, peaceful people who are outraged."

She admitted protesters had not been able to stop culling when it started last night but insisted tonight would be different.

"We always knew the first night would be tricky whether we had a camp here or people about.

"There will be information on the grapevine on where it is happening.

"Nothing stays a secret for long. We know where it was last night and I am hoping it will be there again for the next few nights."

Marie added: "We want to stop this slaughter.

"With a large number of people we can be very effective and we have been."

Another protester, Maria (44) from Wales, added: "It is hard to put a number on how many people are here, they are coming all the time. There are three areas we need to address, the law, the ethics and the science. The badger cull is not the answer on any of those areas.

"We are here for everyone, the badgers, the farmers, the cattle.

"When people start to see badgers being shot it will stir emotions. Lots of people involved are not animal activists, more will get involved and it will eventually stop. I just don't know how many badgers being killed it will take to get there." Pauline Kidner, founder of rescue centre Secret World Wildlife Rescue in Highbridge in Somerset, said badgers always return to their setts if injured – meaning many could die underground.

Mrs Kidner said: "This is a sad day for our countryside, our tourism and many farmers, who could well now get a TB outbreak in their herds due to the movement of the terrified badgers that are being shot at."

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