Police have dismissed reports that gunshots were fired at protesters in the Gloucestershire badger cull zone.
Members of the Wounded Badger Patrol, an organisation of patrollers on the lookout for wounded badgers, complained that marksmen involved in the cull were shooting at them in the Tibberton area at about 12.30am on Tuesday (17 September).
Police sent officers to the scene after responding to 999 calls from terrified protesters that loud bangs were gunshots directed at them.
But following an investigation, Gloucestershire Police said the loud bangs were not gunshots, but bangers that were being set off to scare crows.
A police spokesman said: “We understand that for those members of the Wounded Badger Patrol hearing loud bangs while in the area would have caused great concern and so officers immediately worked to identify that there were no contractors and no culling activity taking place.
“Those members of the public in the area were informed of this to offer them reassurance that there was no risk to their safety.
“It has also been established that the bangs were caused by crow scarers and not fireworks. The crow scarers do not use projectiles and no criminal offences have been committed.”
Meanwhile, Gloucestershire Police said three more protesters were arrested in the early hours of Thursday morning (19 September) as part of Operation Themis, its response to policing the badger cull.
A 20-year-old man from Walsall, a 52-year-old woman from Pittsburgh in the USA and a 26-year-old woman from South Croydon in Surrey were all arrested at about 1.45am on suspicion of aggravated trespass.
They were arrested in the Kents Green area of Newent. All three currently remain in police custody.
In total, 11 people have been arrested in Gloucestershire and one person has been arrested in Somerset over the badger cull pilots.
A trial cull of badgers is under way in west Gloucestershire and west Somerset. They aim to test the safety, efficacy and humaneness of culling badgers using trapping and shooting and free shooting. In total, about 5,000 badgers will be culled in both counties.
The government is expected to make a decision in December whether to roll the culls out more widely to “TB hotspots” across the UK, including Devon.
The government says the cull is necessary and can make a meaningful contribution to controlling TB in cattle.
However, campaigners, including the RSPCA, who are strongly opposed to the policy, say vaccination, increased levels of testing and improved biosecurity are more effective ways of dealing with the disease in the long term and eradicating bovine TB for good.