Beds’ badger lovers blast Biggleswade developers over sett wipe out

The metal frame blocking the entrance to the badger sett 'wiped out' at King's Reach

The metal frame blocking the entrance to the badger sett 'wiped out' at King's Reach - Credit: Archant

Biggleswade families and animal lovers have spoken of their anger after a badger sett was reportedly wiped out.

Around eight to 10 badgers had been living in a field near Baden Powell Way in the new King’s Reach housing development on the eastern edge of town.

But an entrance hole to the black-and-white mammals’ underground abode was blocked with a frame that allowed them to leave the hole but not to return home.

A large section of metal meshes have also been laid across the field to make it difficult for the nocturnal beasts to move around freely. Under the Protection of Badgers Act of 1992, it is illegal to “wilfully kill, injure or take a badger” or to intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy or obstruct access to an entrance to a sett.

It is also an offence to damage or destroy anything which conceals or protects a badger.

Dave Odell from the Bedfordshire Badger Group told the Comet: “Around eight badgers will probably die because of this and we blame the developers and the ecologists behind it.

“The developers and Central Bedfordshire Council say they’re satisfied with their procedures but it’s a total joke.

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“They’ve ridden roughshod over the rules and badgers will die because of it.

“There were around eight badgers in the sett and in my experience when this happens the badgers move on to look for somewhere else to live.

“But it’s difficult to find a new home. If they settle too near other badgers they will get chased away but there’s not much land around there anymore because of the new houses.

“I’m pretty bloody angry. It’s a fait accompli. The law is a joke.”

However, a spokesman on behalf of the King’s Reach consortium – representing housebuilder Taylor Wimpey – insisted: “As part of our Natural England licence we are removing the badger sett at King’s Reach, using an approved specialist contractor.

“All procedures to remove the sett are being managed by Aspect Ecology, and environmental officers at Central Bedfordshire Council have been kept fully informed and are satisfied with the activity.”

Badgers are part of the same family as otters, ferrets, polecats, weasels and wolverines. They have stocky bodies with short legs suitable for digging. They dig burrows underground which are often a maze of tunnels and chambers for sleeping around six to 10 badgers – which they keep very clean.

Badgers feature heavily in British literature, with much-loved characters including Bill Badger in Mary Tourtel’s Rupert Bear, Mr Badger in Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, and Trufflehunter in CS Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia.

Although developers insist procedures have been followed a resident of the King’s Reach housing development told the Comet on condition of anonymity: “It’s inhuman. I’m disgusted.

“As a parent and an animal lover it sickens me.”

Central Beds Council has been approached for comment.