Landowners in Gloucester shire could face blackmail attempts by saboteurs hoping to halt the badger cull.
The shooting of the furry black and white creatures in parts of the county has been authorised by the Government as part of a pilot cull aimed at stopping the spread of bovine TB.
The cull period started on Saturday, bringing tensions on the issue to the boil. The move has enraged animal rights activists who claim it is an inhumane and ineffective measure.
Protest group Stop the Cull has said it is planning to exert pressure on people who allow their land to be part of the cull zone in a bid to get them to drop support for the policy.
Jay Tiernan, a spokesman for the group, said: "We are aiming to bring a stop to the cull and we are confident we can achieve that. Our plan is to put pressure on those landowners to stop them taking part."
He said tactics could involve infiltration of farms, hoax phone calls, playing loud heavy metal music to scatter badgers – and even blackmail.
He added: "We are prepared to dig up the dirt on these people and expose them if they do not agree to stop culling on their land.
"We don’t want to be intimidating, but we do want to put pressure on people and we are not afraid of taking these wealthy landowners on."
The group has identified a key battleground in Gloucestershire’s cull area as the Forthampton Estate, a 3,000 acre swathe of land near Tewkesbury.
Campaigners have been creeping onto the estate in recent months in a bid to find ways to persuade owner John Yorke to drop his support for the cull.
To coincide with the start of the cull period on Saturday, dozens of people from the county, including members from Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting, took part in a march on Westminster. Led by rock star Brian May, they renewed calls for the Government to abort plans.
And a ‘welcome to Gloucestershire’ sign appeared by the side of the A436 near Kilkenny which added: ‘We shoot badgers here’.
Police have said they will take action if any incidents of crime and disorder are reported. A force spokesman said: "Anyone who wishes to protest peacefully and lawfully is able to do so."
Last night police said they had not been called to any incidents regarding the cull this weekend.