TWO men were detained by police after a farmer saw one of them allegedly filling in badger setts.

Gaius Vincent, of Muston Farm, Piddlehinton, was walking along Waterston Ridge, off the B3143 near Dorchester, when he saw a man who appeared to be digging around a sett.

Mr Vincent said: “I heard a quad bike, and we have had trouble with people trespassing and filling in holes before, so I followed the noise. I went up to the man and asked what he was doing.

“He was obviously filling in holes, which indicates he was hunting wild animals, which is illegal, but he denied that.”

Mr Vincent told the man he was performing a citizen’s arrest, and the man made a call on his mobile phone.

He added: “That’s when I called the police. At first the man claimed he was with a hunt, who were out that morning, but I didn’t know who he was calling and who would turn up, so I played it safe.

“Later on he said he wasn’t employed by the hunt.”

PC Jacqui Allen, who attended the incident, said: “When police arrived, the man had left the scene.

“By the time officers caught up with him, he was accompanied by another man.

“Enquiries are still ongoing.”

Mr Vincent said that the South Dorset Hunt was out in the area on Saturday morning but there is no indication that the hunt was responsible for the men’s alleged actions.

David Walsh, chairman of the South Dorset Hunt, said: “I am not prepared to comment on the incident at this time.”

Elizabeth James of the Dorset Badger Group, said: “I think this is disgraceful. I don’t know why this man was stopping the holes, or what he was using to fill them but it makes me cross to think people can just come into the countryside and harm animals. In the old days the hunt was allowed to soft-stop setts with loose soil, hay or straw to stop foxes escaping down them, and that was legal.

“Badgers are strong animals and they can dig out of that. But it’s not legal now, and you still hear of people filling the setts in with plastic bags or big pieces of rock.

“That’s called hard-stop and it means the badgers are trapped underground. A whole family can suffocate when that happens.

“It’s a horrible way to die.”

PC Jacqui Allen, who attended the incident, which took place on Saturday, said: “Two people have been detained and are helping us with our enquiries.”

Mr Vincent said: “It does make me angry.

“I farm cattle, and, yes, we kill for food, but I can’t relate to doing it for fun.

“It’s an unpleasant thing to do.”

He added: “If it was some bloke from a council estate with a Doberman, there would be uproar, but people hunting wild animals in the countryside so often seem to get away with it.”