[A] badger sett at Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve in south Cumbria has been blocked up with rocks, almost certainly causing the death of the family of badgers that were living there.
Staff at the wildlife charity have been shocked by the illegal act. Under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, in England and Wales, it is an offence to wilfully kill, injure or take a badger (or attempt to do so), cruelly ill-treat a badger, dig for a badger, intentionally or recklessly damage or destroy a badger sett, or obstruct access to it, cause a dog to enter a badger sett or disturb a badger when it is occupying a sett.
David Harpley, Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s Conservation Manager who discovered the sett had been blocked up, says: “Cumbria Wildlife Trust looks after and restores nature reserves so that wildlife at risk of becoming extinct from the county or have been persecuted like badgers, have a refuge, away from modern methods of managing land which can harm wildlife. So for someone to trespass on to our nature reserve, away from permitted footpaths is shocking and upsetting. Blocking up the sett will have almost certainly caused the badger family to suffocate. We have reported this crime to the local Wildlife and Crime Police Officer.”
Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve is better well known for its pair of breeding ospreys, which have just returned for their fifth year to raise chicks and Cumbria Wildlife Trust welcomes visitors all year round to see this rare habitat. Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve is a lowland raised bog and has undergone 15 years of restoration to bring back its specialist wildlife such as the white-faced darter dragonfly, which is only found in one other location in the county.
Tom Howarth, Rural and Wildlife Crime Officer for Cumbria Police, says: “Cumbria Police have received a report from Cumbria Wildlife Trust regarding disturbance to a badger sett on their Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve. Interfering with a badger set is an offence which on prosecution can lead to six month imprisonment or an unlimited fine.
“The Foulshaw Moss site is of significant importance to wildlife on a national and international scale. Cumbria Police would request anyone with information relating to wildlife crime at this location or persons witnessing suspicious activity to contact us 101. If you believe and offence is ongoing at the time of your call dial 999.”