Battles over the badgers


AT first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking that the badger cull in the south west of England has little to do with Wigan.

But this week two Wiganers appeared before the courts charged with badger-related crimes.

Madeline Buckler stands accused of attempting to steal a marksman’s rifle during the controversial badger cull in Gloucestershire – which Government advisors said yesterday should be extended as only 708 badgers had been killed.

The animal rights campaigner was arrested last Friday (October 11) following an incident in Newent, Gloucester – amid a six-week badger cull pilot.

She has also been charged with using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour to cause another harassment alarm or distress.

Buckler, 31, is the first person to be charged with a criminal offence under Gloucestershire Police’s Operation Themis, which aims to ensure peaceful protests while allowing marksmen to continue the badger-shooting operation.

Animal rights activists oppose the controversial Government-sanctioned badger cull, which is aimed at preventing the spread of bovine TB in cattle.

In August, Graham Workman, the bio-diversity manager at Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, and the Lancashire Wildlife Trust both also questioned the need for the cull – claiming vaccination was a better way of preventing the spread of the disease.

Buckler, of Kings Moss Lane, near Billinge, has been bailed to appear before magistrates in Cheltenham on Wednesday, November 20.

Meanwhile, Daniel Ratchford, of St Wilfred’s Road in Standish, appeared before Crewe Magistrates’ Court accused of damaging a badger sett and organising fights between dogs and foxes.

In a case brought by the RSPCA, Ratchford, 29, denies committing the offences on land adjacent to Brookfield Golf Course in Staffordshire on February 3.

He is due back before Crewe Magistrates’ Court on November 4.