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Farmer fined 800 for badger drowning

30 Dec 2005 - Scottish Badgers

The first conviction under the new legislation was obtained when Andrew Ballantyne, High Lawside Farm, Glassford near Strathaven in South Lanarkshire pleaded guilty to two charges under the Protection Of Badgers Act 1992 as amended. Ballantyne appeared at Hamilton Sheriff court on 24th November 2005 where he was fined a total of 800 by the Sheriff for attempting to kill a badger and interfering with a sett.

This case was a particularly cynical and premeditated crime where the accused had taken a slurry tanker into a field and pumped liquid effluent into the sett in an attempt to drown the badgers occupying it. Witnesses had to stand helplessly by as Ballantyne carried out the operation which he subsequently covered up by filling in the entrances with a JCB. The police were alerted and although they attended quickly it was all over before they arrived. Constable Phil Briggs, Strathclyde Police, put together an operation and subsequently served a warrant on the accused before excavating the affected part of the sett.

The sett itself was on a bank at the edge of two fields, one grass and the other arable. Badgers, as they commonly do, had dug entrances in the arable field and it was these that were targeted. Using a small digger kindly provided by South Lanarkshire Council, along with a driver, the sett was excavated and almost immediately the damage within the sett was found with the tunnel system and some chambers full of slurry.

It was painstakingly slow work and the skill of the digger driver was exceptional in that he was able to very slowly eat away at the soil following the path of the tunnels. I am glad to say that no dead badgers were found and it was more by luck than design that none were killed. In fact the excavation came to a stop when we found a live badger cowering in a chamber, Reluctant to leave its nest it had to be coaxed out and made off across the excavations before disappearing down the sett further up the fence line.
The disappointment was the level of fine this conviction attracted. The 500 fine for attempting to kill in such a cruel manner and the type of interference which resulted in a 300 penalty were well short of the mark and quite honestly this man was lucky he did not go to prison.

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