A RESIDENT living near Prince Charles’ residence, Highgrove in Tetbury, has raised fears about suspected Badger Cull gunmen operating close to his home and his neighbours' homes.

Activists claimed in September that land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, including Highgrove, had joined the Badger Cull.

Peter Martin, who is also chairman of the Gloucestershire Badger Trust, the local branch of the national group, said he was concerned after hearing a shot fired from his house and allegedly seeing a shooter and bait point on Highgrove land, just 300 metres from his home.

He said the thought of gunmen shooting so close to his home has meant that he is afraid to let his dogs out in the dark because he feels “they could be shot”.

According to Mr Martin, a gunshot was heard last Wednesday, October 4, at about 8.30pm.

He explained: “We went down to investigate, keeping to the footpath with torches. We found a quantity of peanuts. They are bait points to lure the badgers and then shoot them while they are eating them.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard:

(Peter Martin with a badger sett in woodland on the edge of Highgrove estate)

“We found a man with a rifle who ran away. The rifle is the kind you would use for deer stalking, a high-powered rifle. We think he fired from the bait point.

“The rifle has a range of 1500 metres and he is 300 metres from houses, even less than that from the main road, and 400 metres from Prince Charles’ house.

“If he misses and hits a stone, it could travel through our windows and kill someone.

“I can’t believe they are allowed to do this so close to houses.

“It’s a complete lack of any thought. Anybody could have been walking there. People walk their dogs there.”

He explained that there is a narrow view in the rifle, so if someone had been walking by, the shooter would not have been aware without someone else on the lookout.

Mr Martin said that his neighbours, who had not been aware of what was going on, were "appalled" when told that they were living close to a cull zone.

He raised concerns about the possibility that the gunman he saw was untrained or inexperienced: “We found no blood around the bait point. We would’ve found evidence if he hit a badger.

“So either he’s not good enough to hit a badger at 100 metres, because that is the minimum shooting standards, or even worse, he let the gun off accidentally. That is even more worrying.

“In the army, that’s called a negligent discharge and you are sacked. I find it really disconcerting.”

The Gloucestershire Badger Office, a local group which endeavours to inform people about the ‘cullzones’ in the county, patrolled Prince Charles’ land in Tetbury on Saturday in an attempt to find proof of culling activity.

In one Facebook post, the group said two shooters were found near Tetbury while they were heading towards Highgrove.

It also said badger baits were found near an A-road on Broadfield Farm: "bait is thought to be in an unsafe location for free shooting as it's very close to the A433 and shooting would be towards the A-road, a smaller road, a footpath or the sett itself."

A spokesperson for Prince Charles said they would not comment on the matter.