3 May 2018
A man has been fined hundreds of pounds after being found guilty of disturbing a badger sett in North Yorkshire.
Matthew Sharp, 49, of North Newbald in the East Riding of Yorkshire, was convicted following a trial at Harrogate Magistrates Court on Monday 30 April 2018.
He was ordered to pay a £600 fine, £620 prosecution costs and a £60 victim surcharge.
Sharp was charged with interfering with a badger sett by disturbing a badger when it was occupying it, in woods near Greenmires Lane, Stainburn, Otley on 10 July 2017 – an offence under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.
Following a report from a member of the public, officers from North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce attended and found Sharp carrying out forestry work. He was advised that there was believed to be an active badger sett there and he stopped work. Officers identified a sett with evidence of activity in the woods.
Sergeant Kevin Kelly, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said: “Badger persecution is one of the UK’s wildlife crime priorities, and as such we take any reports very seriously.
“In many cases, sett disturbance or destruction occurs when people carry out otherwise legal operations on land such as forestry or agricultural tasks, and is entirely avoidable.
“If you are planning to to carry out work and identify an issue with a badger sett, it is extremely important you seek advice to stop you getting into a position where you could be facing a criminal investigation.”
Jean Thorpe, of the Ryedale Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, gave evidence during the trial. Speaking afterwards, she said: “This could have all been avoided if the correct checks were carried out prior to the work taking place. Machine disturbance, driving over or filling in holes in setts can cause great frustration and harm to badgers – it’s not something they are used to.
“Unfortunately, incidents like this are too common. North Yorkshire is good for badgers, but this shows the different types of harm they can come to.”
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