Badgers endangered in West Moors
A BADGER sett on the West Moors Plantation has been damaged in a deliberate attempt to harm the protected species.
Last Saturday evening, a dog walker noticed that a flammable fluid had been tipped into two of the badger holes and a T-shirt soaked in the liquid was left at the entrance to the sett.
The dog walker, who is a member of the local badger group, contacted the police and an officer promptly attended the scene.
The dog walker, who didn't want to be named, said: "This sett is not particularly concealed and is very close to residential properties backing onto the West Moors Plantation. Somebody must have seen something."
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She added that the sett is well monitored by volunteers from the local badger protection groups and this was the first time any such incident had occurred.
She continued: "Interfering with a badger sett is a criminal offence under the Protection of Badgers Act (1992) and carries a maximum £5,000 fine or a six month imprisonment. The area of West Moors has a very low crime rate and we think that this was an act of pure ignorance carried out probably by people bothered by the badgers damaging some gardens, rather than as organised crime."
Martin Noble, secretary of the New Forest Badger Group commented: "Interference to a badger sett is a criminal offence and as well as being illegal, the disturbance it can cause to the badgers is extremely upsetting to their secretive way of life. Badgers will enter gardens in their search for food but this tends to be seasonal. It is very difficult to prevent this without considerable expense and our advice is to leave them to get on with their nocturnal ramblings undisturbed. Anyone wanting further advice is invited to visit our website on http://www.newforest-badgers.org.uk/contact."
Inspector Neil Leat, who specialises in wildlife crime, said: "Dorset Police take criminal acts towards wildlife very seriously and continue to work with partner agencies, including the Dorset Badger Group, to investigate Wildlife Crimes.
"Dorset Police have a number of specially trained wildlife crime officers, who are dedicated to investigating incidents such as the one reported in West Moors.
"Damaging a badger sett is a crime and one that we will investigate and prosecute offenders where they are identified.
"I am very keen to hear from anyone who may have information regarding the incident at West Moors, and urge them to call 101, quoting incident number 22:465 in the strictest confidence."
Earlier this month Brian May, guitarist with Queen, launched a petition asking the government to stop its plans to permit trial badger culls this autumn. More than 100,000 signatures had been collected by Monday. Sir David Attenborough has also condemned the cull plans.
Farming organisations, including the NFU, are supporting the cull as they believe it will help to reduce cases of bovine tuberculosis, which is having a serious impact on the farming industry. The disease costs the UK economy nearly £100m a year.