BADGERED OUT? Police called in amid claims family of animals killed when tree-felling trucks 'drove over sett'.
POLICE are investigating claims that a family of badgers has been killed in a Coventry coppice.
Seven hundred trees are being felled in the woodland next to Warwick University and a member of the public has told police he believes a badger sett has been destroyed.
Officers cannot confirm whether badgers were living in Whitefield Coppice before the work started but say it is a criminal offence to disturb either badgers, or their sett, without a licence. The Forestry Commission has confirmed it granted a licence for the felling of the trees, but says a separate licence would be needed to work around a badger sett.
Nature-lover Richard Fern, who reported the work to Warwickshire Police, said he spent an evening last summer watching badgers emerge from the sett.
He said: "They've taken trucks and quite simply driven over the sett. The trees are gone from all around it and a truck has been driven right over it. Essentially, they've mown down the badgers where they were, filling in their sett. It's horrible. I've watched these badgers at night. They're beautiful."
Ian Scott of Warwickshire Badger Group group said: "There are badgers in that area because we've had a number of casualties from traffic accidents, especially in Crackley Lane so it's entirely possible there are badgers in the coppice but that area hasn't been surveyed by us."
Landowner Tom Steele, who regularly hosts the Kenilworth Show on his land south of the university campus, said he had commissioned a forestry firm to do the felling.
He said: "There might be badgers there. They are all over the place. All I can say is I didn't know there were badgers in that wood.
"I do know where there are badgers on the farm but I didn't think there were any badgers there."
Craig Fellows, Warwickshire Police wildlife officer, said: "Under the Badgers Act, there is a possible prison term but it's very unlikely that would happen. That would be mainly for badger-diggers or baiters.
"This is probably reckless rather than intentional and there are various points we would have to prove before considering that."
ANGRY... Richard Fern believes a badger sett may have been destroyed in Whitefield Coppice. Picture: Lee Busby LS300109TREE-05