A FARMER has been sentenced by Scarborough Magistrates Court after he pumped 5,000 gallons of slurry into a badger sett.
Malcolm Brian Foster, of Grange Farm, Bulmer, near Malton, was found guilty of recklessly damaging an active badger sett by magistrates on Thursday.
He was fined £500 with a £15 victim surcharge and £700 costs.
The one day trial at Scarborough Magistrates Court heard how Foster, a tenant cattle farmer on land which is part of the Castle Howard estate, pumped the liquid cattle slurry into an active badger sett at Northfield Farm, Bulmer, in March.
The court heard how Malton-based PC Jez Walmsley, the district’s Wildlife Crime Officer, visited the farm with badger expert Jean Thorpe after a tip-off from a member of the public.
The badger sett previously known by Mrs Thorpe, of Ryedale Badger Group, was completely filled with cattle slurry and had spilled out into the adjacent agricultural fields.
“Badgers give birth in February and in March and this large badger sett would have held badger cubs below ground,” said Mrs Thorpe. “Badgers in this sett will have died from drowning or suffocation as the slurry was pumped under pressure into this obvious active sett.”
A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police said: “This was a very callous and heartless act of cruelty to these protected animals who will have died a horrible death. The court’s punishment reflects the seriousness of this distressing act. Those who persecute badgers should remember that it remains illegal to kill badgers in North Yorkshire.”
The first licence for a cull of badgers to control Bovine TB has been granted for an area of West Gloucestershire.
It is a strictly controlled cull and is carried out by licensed marksmen and is being monitored by both DEFRA and Gloucestershire Police.
There have been no other licences issued for any other part of the UK and badgers in the rest of the UK remain protected under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.
The police spokesman added: “The cull does not allow anyone, unless licensed, to kill badgers and any offences will be dealt with by the Wildlife Unit of North Yorkshire Police.”