A group of anti-badger cull activists is planning to release the contact details of more than 40 cull company directors on social media.
The organisation, which has almost 100,000 followers on Facebook, has already begun to publish the names, phone numbers and addresses of people involved with the cull, urging activists to call them to ask ‘why they want to kill badgers’.
The move came as a High Court judge rejected a challenge to the legality of Defra’s plan to extend the badger cull in England.
The verdict on the case, brought by ecologist Tom Langton, was blasted by Badger Trust chief executive Dominic Dyer, who said it gave Defra Secretary Michael Gove the ‘green light to push the badger to the verge of local extinction in many parts of England’.
One post on the anti-cull page reads: “It is legal to use ‘141’ before putting in the number so they cannot see who is ringing.
“Please do not ring through the night, or Google ‘request call back’ for PPI or mortgages as it is incredibly annoying.
“The badgers have no one else, only us. If we will not speak up to the killers, who will?”
Another post calls on followers to ‘stick the boot in’ by buying an old phone or new SIM card to harass those involved with the cull.
Jay Tiernan, who is spokesman for the group, told Farmers Guardian the details were being released so local groups and individuals across the country could organise protests outside the farms where culls were taking place.
Asked whether he thought it was fair for law-abiding citizens to be subjected to potential intimidation or violence, he said: “Farmers who organise the extermination of a much-loved protected species should not be surprised by the reaction against them.”
Similar moves in the past have seen farming families intimidated and threatened. One farmer told FG a cull protester had threatened to kill him and his wife and children.
Defra’s 25-year strategy to tackle bovine TB includes a range of measures including cattle movement controls and a cull of badgers where they are linked with herd breakdowns.
An NFU spokesman said: “This group’s tactics centre on intimidating, bullying and harassing farming families and their children who have done nothing wrong.
“We continue to find it extraordinary that this group – made up of a small number of extreme animal rights activists – feel it is morally acceptable to carry out activities like this which are specifically designed to scare, threaten and intimidate normal farming families.
“Badger culls are being carried out legally and lawfully in specific areas as part of Government policy to control and eradicate this terrible disease, which saw more than 33,000 cattle slaughtered in England last year.
“We understand not everyone agrees with the policy. But anyone who calls farmers and their families with the aim of causing them distress is committing a criminal offence.
“Targeting farming families in this way is indefensible.”