Deliberate badger sett blocking in Suffolk has increased
- Credit: PA
Reports of badger setts being deliberately blocked up in Suffolk have increased, according to a rural police officer.
Sergeant Brian Calver, of Suffolk police's rural crime team, said lumps of wood, plastic sacks or straw and sand are being used to block the entrance to the underground tunnels.
Under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, it is an offence to damage, destroy or block access to a badger sett, or to disturb badgers in their setts.
Sgt Calver said he wants to remind people of the law - and stress that police action will be taken if necessary.
"We have seen an increase in reports of badger setts being blocked up deliberately," he said.
"Years ago, prior to the Hunting Act 2004, it was legal for badger setts to be soft blocked on hunt days to prevent foxes going down badger setts to escape the hunt. That was wiped with the inception of the Hunting Act.
"So we're just reminding people that it is a criminal offence to block up the sett and if we can prove who did it, they will be dealt with if it's deliberate because it is a serious offence. You can go to prison for it and get an unlimited fine.
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"This time of year, it's even more serious because the mums are having their cubs. If it's blocked up fully and they can't get out, the poor things suffocate. It's wicked beyond belief."
Sgt Calver said Suffolk has "quite high" badger populations and care is also needed when agricultural work is being undertaken.
Where work around a badger sett is deemed unavoidable, a licence can be obtained.
"We've had a couple of occasions recently where we've had to speak to farmers who have caused damage to a sett as a result of agricultural operations," Sgt Calver added.
"This is something that is completely avoidable because you can apply for a licence via Natural England to allow you to carry on with agricultural operations.
"We're not in the business of persecuting farmers who have made a mistake, we'd rather work with them and make sure things are done lawfully."
More information on the law around badgers can be found at the Badger Trust here.