Farmers threatened with prosecution over badger killing

Natural England has warned that it will do everything in its power to prosecute farmers who kill badgers illegally.


Paul Butt, Natural England wildlife management adviser, said he believed a substantial number of farmers were using Rodenators to destroy badger setts.


Speaking at a pest technicians exhibition on Tuesday (4 November), he called for the use of the machines to be banned.


“These tools are enormously cruel, blasting inflamed propane and oxygen through warrens, setting animals on fire and often burying them alive,” he said.


“Users can inject their chosen level of propane gas, which often creates gigantic explosions, blasting the farmer with dirt and flint and damaging his hearing.


“Farmers are supposed to check there are no animals underground before they use them, but it’s impossible to tell.


“Natural England wants to see a full investigation of these dangerous systems. I think they should be banned altogether.”


Mr Butt said he thought many more people were using Rodenators to destroy badger setts than were being caught.


Natural England would do everything it could to prosecute offenders, he added.


The warning from Natural England came after a Kent farmer was fined for recklessly interfering with a badger sett.


David Botting, of Wallend Farm, was ordered to pay £2662 in fines and legal costs for using the American gopher-control invention on a river bank known to contain a badger sett.


He pleaded guilty, saying he had been trying to eradicate a rabbit warren.


Although “bunker blasters” can be freely bought and sold, their only legal use in Britain is for levelling ground.