BADGER setts have been damaged by a vehicle.

Dorset Police were called to the Symondsbury Estate, near Bridport, to reports of badger setts being destroyed.

A spokesman for the force said: “Following an investigation it was established that damage had been caused to a badger set by a vehicle. The badgers have recovered, and Dorset Police’s rural crime officers are liaising with the estate to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

Badgers are protected under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, which bans people from injuring, killing or taking the animals or disturbing their setts.

It is illegal to interfere with a sett without a licence from Natural England.

Ian Mortimer, of the Dorset Badger Vaccination Project, was contacted by a dog walker who discovered the damaged setts shortly after 11am on Thursday, September 6.

He said: “The first incident had been reported by a dog walker taking his daily stroll across Watton Hill.

“The second incident was reported a day later by a local resident who observed that another badger sett had been damaged.

“Both police reports were sent Dorset Police.”

The protection of badgers forms one of the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s (NPCC) priorities for wildlife crime and it aims to improve and increase the recording of incidents, crimes and intelligence for badger persecution, as well as improve the investigation process and increase awareness of badger persecution across the country.

Badger persecution appears in many forms according to the council, and includes the ‘avoidable’ sett disturbance and destruction which can occur when people carry out otherwise legal operations on land, such as forestry or agricultural tasks.

Almost 50 per cent of all incidents recorded by the Badger Trust relate to interference with badger setts, most of which could have been avoided if those involved had sought appropriate advice. These types of offences often involve forestry operations, agricultural tasks and other lawful actions such as development of land for building purposes.

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The Dorset Echo has attempted to contact the landowners for comment.