Huntsman arrested for interference with badger sett
Wednesday 25th September
On the 7th of August 2007 a huntsman for the Duke of Northumberland’s Percy Hunt , Robert McCarthy, appeared at South East Northumberland Magistrates Court and pleaded guilty to two offences of Badger Sett Interference , Contrary to Section 3 (1) (b) of the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. He was given a Conditional Discharge for 9 months and costs of £43.
The arrest was a result of Intelligence, a joint Operation (code named “Operation Newark” ) between Northumbria Police, The RSPCA Special Operations Unit and the Northumberland Wildlife Trust Badger group. Robert McCarthy was observed attacking a sett with spades and were subsequently apprehended and arrested for Badger Sett interference and thereafter it was confirmed that two badger setts had been attacked and the entrances all filled with soil.
P.C Andy Swinburne said ” This was from the onset a potentially high profile politically sensitive case , but with excellent collaboration of all agencies involved and strong evidence gained which incorporated the use of the Wildlife Forensic Services Badger DNA Database , Video and Digital images (which included aerial images taken by the North East Air Support Unit), it has resulted in a quick and swift guilty plea , despite Mr McCarthy during interview being adamant that the setts were in fact fox earths”.
“The illegal blocking of badger setts by fox hunts is still widespread, despite having serious welfare implications for badgers. This conviction is an excellent result and should send a clear message to hunts that illegal blocking of badger setts is wholly unacceptable”, said Dr Richard Yarnell, Chief Executive of the Badger Trust. This conviction reflects the commitment and expertise shown by the Northumberland Wildlife Trust Badger Group, the RSPCA, the Police and the prosecutors, who worked tirelessly to ensure a successful result.