South Yorkshire group call for help as badger sett interference reaches 'epidemic proportions'

A sett at Wharncliffe which Graham said has been deliberately blocked, with a high chance that badgers starved to death inside
A sett at Wharncliffe which Graham said has been deliberately blocked, with a high chance that badgers starved to death inside
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An institution from South Yorkshire have called for help from the public following a recent spark in cases of badger sett interference.

Badger sett interference has reached 'epidemic proportions' around Sheffield according South Yorkshire Badger Group.

A sett in the Wortley area which has been dug out by badger baiters

A sett in the Wortley area which has been dug out by badger baiters

In recent months the group has noticed a sudden increase in the number of damaged setts, an act which can be illegal.

The SYBG recently carried out an investigations of 'suspicious' areas in woodlands within a few miles radius of both the Wortley and Wharncliffe areas of Barnsley and Sheffield.

This found that out of 35 setts examined, 30 had been interfered with, compared to only five out of 35 setts surveyed a few miles away.

The findings have since been sent to South Yorkshire Police and the owners of the land, and the group is now calling for help from the public to tackle the issue.

The SYBG help to protect badger setts in South Yorkshire

The SYBG help to protect badger setts in South Yorkshire

Badgers are a protected species and under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, illegal interference with a sett could land you with fine of up to £5,000 and six months in prison.

Many people can be liable for this without even realising, such as property developers, farmers and game-keepers.

Graham Shepherd, chairman of the group said: "Despite the badger’s protected status, a few farmers and game keepers have been known to regard badgers as the enemy although they rarely cause significant problems.

"Nationally it is known that some land managers and hunts recruit other characters to deal with badgers on their behalf."

Members of the South Yorkshire Badger Group protecting a badger sett with sheets to prevent digging

Members of the South Yorkshire Badger Group protecting a badger sett with sheets to prevent digging

He said the problem had gone on for years, mostly in the Doncaster Borough, but it is within the last six months it had become more apparent.

"The process usually adopted by badger baiters is to put a terrier wearing a tracer into a sett to confront a badger. A device above ground locates the position where the badger can be dug out of its home and either taken away, killed on the spot, or thrown to the dogs for so called sporting reasons," Graham added.

"Further details would be too gruesome to describe, but it is only left to the imagination.

"Nobody digs at a badger hole with good intent. Also when a sett is blocked, it probably means that the badgers are stuck inside, they could starve or suffocate."

The SYBG have campaigned for many years after forming in 1985, and are licensed to carry out protections on vulnerable badger setts.

Their work involves burying layers of steel reinforcing and rubber sheets over the setts and educating the public about badgers.

You can support the South Yorkshire Badger Group here: https://www.gofundme.com/badger-sett-protection-work or find more information on their website: http://syorksbadgergroup.org.uk/