A BEREAVED mother was shocked to find disturbed graves when she went to pay her respects to her daughter.

Janet Crichard, 80, took flowers to her daughter Vivienne Cunningham’s grave in Dorchester’s cemetery in Weymouth Avenue and found what she believes are badger tunnels around other graves and headstones.

Mrs Critchard fears her daughter’s grave could be dug up if the badgers continue and is worried the families of affected graves will be left upset if they visit.

She said: “I believe the badgers have been digging.

“There’s a badger set going right under the graves and they are making pathways.

“Once a badger has got in, a whole sett can make a terrible mess.”

Mrs Crichard said her aunt and uncle are also buried in the same grave and she is worried that as badgers are protected they will be left to cause more damage.

She said: “I’m worried about my daughter’s grave.

“My aunt and uncle are also buried there so it’s a family grave.

“It would really distress me and anybody else if my family’s grave was affected.”

She added: “Something has got to be done and quickly.”

In May badger setts were found to have caused similar damage in Symondsbury graveyard.

Nearby residents were kept awake by the sett and coffin handles were found amongst the dug-up earth.

Dorchester Town Council clerk Dennis Holmes said there was a problem with rabbits at the cemetery but he would keep an open mind about badgers.

He said: “The rabbits are coming from the railway embankment.

“We put in rabbit-proof fencing in the bit of the cemetery without the boundary wall.

“But they have been burrowing through the embankment and if they go deep enough they can come up under the wall.”

Mr Holmes said that a rabbit or group of rabbits caused particular disturbance by burrowing recently around graves.

He added: “There is nothing to suggest it was anything other than rabbits.”

Mr Holmes said it was unlikely to be badgers as it would be difficult for them to get in and that the burrows were in different places to where he would expect.

He added that there had been no reports of badgers as far as he knew but the council would deal with it if there was definitive proof.