Residents in ‘civil war’ with destructive badgers

PUBLISHED: 12:30 01 October 2018

A badger sett in a garden in Sidmouth. Ref shs 38 18TI 1632. Picture: Terry Ife

A badger sett in a garden in Sidmouth. Ref shs 38 18TI 1632. Picture: Terry Ife

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‘Civil war’ has broken out between disgruntled residents and a family of destructive badgers who are causing sinkholes and transforming gardens into muddy battlegrounds.

A badger sett in a garden in Sidmouth. Ref shs 38 18TI 1624. Picture: Terry IfeA badger sett in a garden in Sidmouth. Ref shs 38 18TI 1624. Picture: Terry Ife

One pensioner has been forced to cough up nearly £4,000 to pay for an ecologist to start the process of getting a licence to evict the animals, which have destroyed her manicured garden and forced her pet dog to remain housebound.

Attempts to relocate the badgers have also hit stumbling blocks. Residents who contacted a wildlife expert were told if they wanted to relocate the badgers they would have to pay for a false sett to be built – which could cost up to £10,000.

The problem has had a big impact on Sidmouth pensioner Dora Hein, who lives in Roseland and will have to spend up to £8,000 on finishing the eviction process through the hired ecologist.

Mrs Hein, who is in her nineties, said the misery started in September 2017.

A badger sett in a garden in Sidmouth. Ref shs 38 18TI 1628. Picture: Terry IfeA badger sett in a garden in Sidmouth. Ref shs 38 18TI 1628. Picture: Terry Ife

She has had to keep her Bedlington terrier inside her home to avoid her pet clashing with the territorial badgers.

Other Roseland residents have also been forced to keep their cats and dogs indoors.

Mrs Hein said: “I had such a nice garden. I had no idea they could cause such disruption.

“It is very sad. The financial aspect is tough as well – I have to pay for it with my pension.”

A badger sett in a garden in Sidmouth. Ref shs 38 18TI 1626. Picture: Terry IfeA badger sett in a garden in Sidmouth. Ref shs 38 18TI 1626. Picture: Terry Ife

Residents in the road have spent thousands of pounds ‘badger-proofing’ their gardens, but still live with the daily fear that could burrow under their homes – rendering them unsellable.

The badgers have already started burrowing under one resident’s garage, endangering its foundation and putting it in danger of sinking.

Aside from the risk of structural damage, the Sidmouth neighbourhood has also been choked with the unsavoury smell of badger excrement.

The problem has been likened to ‘civil war’ by resident Bernadette Parker.

A badger sett in a garden in Sidmouth. Ref shs 38 18TI 1631. Picture: Terry IfeA badger sett in a garden in Sidmouth. Ref shs 38 18TI 1631. Picture: Terry Ife

She said: “There are a lot of elderly people nearby.

“If damage is caused to their houses’ foundations, they won’t be able to sell their properties and use the money to go into supported care if they need it.

“It is like civil war with the badgers. None of us mind the animals, but they need to be somewhere they can be left in peace.”

A Natural England spokesman said: “Badgers and their setts are protected under the Badgers Act and any actions which would harm them or their setts is carefully considered and only permitted with a licence.

A badger sett in a garden in Sidmouth. Ref shs 38 18TI 1630. Picture: Terry IfeA badger sett in a garden in Sidmouth. Ref shs 38 18TI 1630. Picture: Terry Ife

“We appreciate the distress and concern that associated damage may cause, which is why we licence actions to exclude badgers where they are causing problems.

“This can include measures to prevent re-establishing a sett in the immediate vicinity.”

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