Pair fined £1,370 each after pleading guilty to blocking badger setts on their farm and piping car exhaust fumes into the earth in an attempt to kill the animals inside.
A father and son from Somerset have been fined £1,370 each after pleading guilty to blocking badger setts on their farm and piping car exhaust fumes into the earth in an attempt to gas the animals inside.
David Merton Raymond Bown, 67, and his son Philip Andrew Bown, 38, pleaded guilty to offences under the Protection of the Badgers Act at Yeovil Magistrates Court this afternoon (Thursday 31 October).
They admitted blocking the 17 entrances to a sett on Batcombe Vale Farm, before running a hose pipe from the exhaust of their Land Rover and into the earth in an attempt to kill the badgers.
The RSPCA was alerted to the situation in April 2013 after reports from a member of the public about the men behaving suspiciously.
An RSPCA inspector, police and ecological experts examined the badger sett area and found clear evidence of badgers living there. They also discovered 17 of the sett entrances blocked, many with clear spade marks visible and visible car tracks running to and from the area.
RSPCA inspector Ian Burns said: “This was a very inhumane way to try and kill these poor animals. They could have been trapped underground and potentially suffered a prolonged, slow death.
“The defendants’ actions in this case were deliberate and constituted a significant breach of the law, having the potential to kill numerous animals in an inhumane way. It is not only illegal – but ethically unacceptable and cruel.”
The Bowns are dairy farmers who run the 800-acre farm where there are more than 20 active badger setts. They said their actions were the result of finding a sick badger on their land and fearing the animal could pass bovine TB to their dairy herd, which had previously been affected by the disease.
Inspector Burns said that, while the RSPCA is “very sympathetic” to all farmers dealing with bovine TB in their cattle, attempting to kill badgers is not the answer.
He said: “It is simply not acceptable to just take the law into your own hands in these situations.”
- The RSPCA will investigate reports that badgers have been illegally gassed and urges anyone with information to call 0300 1234 999.
Exhaust image ©iStockphoto.com/olegusk