Farmer fined for trying to gas badgers
A father and son from Somerset have been fined after pleading guilty to blocking badger setts on their farm, then piping in car exhaust fumes in an attempt to gas the animals inside.
David Merton Raymond Bown, 67, of Batcombe in Shepton Mallet, and his son Philip Andrew Bown, 38, of Henley Grove, Bruton were fined £1,370 each at Yeovil Magistrates Court yesterday afternoon.
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 into the earth in an attempt to kill the badgers.
The pair were caught after a member of the public reported them acting suspiciously.
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However, the men, who operate an 800-acre farm where there are more than 20 active badger setts, said their actions were the result of finding a sick badger on their land and therefore fearing the animal could pass bovine TB to their dairy herd, which was previously affected by the disease.
But RSPCA inspector Ian Burns said the practice was not just illegal – but ethically unacceptable and cruel.
" We are of course very sympathetic to all farmers dealing with bovine TB in their cattle, but attempting to kill badgers, especially in this cruel and inhumane way, is simply not the answer," he 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 court head how the RSPCA were alerted to the situation in April following the report from the member of the public.
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.
Mr Burns continued: "Badgers are a protected animal and, like all animals, deserve to be treated with compassion. 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."
Both men pleaded guilty to offences under the Protection of the Badgers Act.
More than 12,000 cattle were slaughtered in the first four months of this year due to bovine TB.
To report information on the illegal gassing of badgers contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.