Animal rights activists are targeting wealthy landowners by visiting areas where a badger cull is due to take place later this summer.

Pilot culls to test whether shooting badgers can be carried out safely, humanely and effectively, are due to take place in Somerset and west Gloucestershire.

A group of hunt saboteurs opposed to the cull said they visited the Orchard Wyndham estate, near Williton, Somerset, on Saturday (8 June).

“At noon today 50 hunt sabs met up at Orchard Wyndham to have a look around,” said a post on the Stop the Cull website.

The saboteurs also visited the Chargot shooting estate, Exmoor.

“Some people may wonder ‘what is the point of sabs walking around shooting estates?’ ” said the website post.

“The answer is simple – they need to know we are watching them and we are many.”

The visits came as Jay Tiernan of Stop the Cull told The Independent on Sunday that activists didn’t want to be seen harassing smaller farmers.

“It looks like a big gang of yobs against some guy struggling to make a living,” he said. “We don’t feel uncomfortable targeting the landed gentry.”

Mr Tiernan said there were about 700 saboteurs fighting the badger cull, two of whom were willing to trespass on property to disrupt it.

He denied that keeping estates under surveillance amounted to intimidation. “If you are involved in the badger cull, you are going to be exposed,” he said.

DEFRA has said that those opposed to culling have the right to undertake peaceful protest.

But it has warned that those licensed to cull badgers must also be allowed to undertake lawful activity without fear of harm or intimidation.

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