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Protesters gear up to oppose cull
Campaigners against a badger cull say they are gearing up to protest against the "inhumane" measure, expected to start this week.
Activists from campaign group Stop the Cull have already gathered in Gloucestershire, where one of the first pilot schemes will take place, to form a "wounded badger patrol".
The group claims the cull is expected to start on Tuesday and is on "amber alert", according to its website.
The Department Of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said the authorised cull companies will decide when the badger cull will begin.
The pilot cull, which will also take place in Somerset, has been condemned as "inhumane and unscientific" by Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, who said those against it were preparing to protest. She added: "I completely understand the distress that the continuing problem of TB in cattle is causing to farmers. But wanting to do something should not be pushing this Government to make the terrible decision to go ahead with this cull, which could actually magnify the TB problem.
A Defra spokesperson said: "Bovine TB is spreading across England and devastating our cattle and dairy industries. No country has dealt with the disease without tackling infection in both wildlife and cattle. We are working on new cattle and oral badger vaccines but they are years away from being ready and we cannot wait while this terrible disease spreads."
On Thursday a High Court judge made an order aimed at stopping farmers involved in badger culls being harassed and abused. Mr Justice Turner granted an injunction at a High Court hearing in London after lawyers representing the National Farmers' Union said farmers had been targeted.
At the time a protester said demonstrators would still aim to make the lives of farmers involved in badger culls a ''misery''. The order includes provisions preventing protesters entering private land without consent and protects farmers from threats and harassment - and anyone found to be in breach could face contempt of court proceedings.
Jay Tiernan, who was named in court as a representative of the Coalition of Badger Action Groups, said he did not condone unlawful harassment. But he said the injunction would not stop protests.
''It will make absolutely no difference whatsoever,'' said Mr Tiernan after the hearing. ''We certainly do want to reduce the numbers of farmers involved. We like to think of ourselves as being very, very annoying. 'We will use every available piece of legislation we can to make their lives a misery.''