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'Passions high' over Pembrokeshire badger cull

10 July 2010 - BBC News

By Maggie Ayre Producer of BBC Radio 4's Open Country

The result of an appeal by the Badger Trust against the Welsh Assembly Government's plans to trial the culling of badgers is expected early next week. As the verdict is awaited, tensions are running high among the rural community of north Pembrokeshire and in parts of Ceredigion, where the cull is to take place. While everyone agrees that something needs to be done to eradicate TB within cattle, the methods of achieving this are hotly disputed by people on either side of the debate, leading to frustration, anxiety and anger. Some landowners have protested against the cull, arguing that they were not properly consulted and that the badgers should be vaccinated rather than shot.

Gavin Wheeler of Pembrokeshire Against the Cull tried to prevent contractors and police coming onto his land to count badger setts. "I ended up being arrested merely for asking to see the faces of the contractors," he said. "Their faces were covered in balaclavas and they stayed within a car with dark windows. We were told it was because they were feeling intimidated."

He was later released without charge, but fears the issue is damaging community relations. "Splits are occurring within the farming community, between the farming and general community, or indeed between the police and the general community." ...

Welsh author and poet Owen Sheers presents a special edition of BBC Radio 4's Open Country programme from the Pembrokeshire cull zone on Saturday at 0607 BST and on Thursday at 1500 BST.

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