BBC News | Old sett blockers taught new tricks

A BBC News report this evening is headlined “Men deny interfering with active badger setts in Devon“. On the surface it’s a rather typical tale of ‘terrier men’ (who stand out even amongst a group of thuggish lawbreakers as one of the nastier forms of illegal fox hunters) blocking the entrances to badger setts.

Now, badgers are protected by law of course. That has never stopped terrier men, who (allegedly, m’lud) routinely block badger setts to stop foxes disappearing underground (where they will be flushed out by the terriers who are also routinely scarred for life in fights with badgers) or to net emerging badgers for illegal badger baiting. Badger setts are protected by law too. But only if they’re active…

This case is still going through the court so we won’t speculate on outcomes (even though the terrier men don’ deny blocking the sett with the hunt paying for lawyers who apparently couldn’t care less about badgers – or why defend these notorious thugs? – it’s likely they’ll get off). Same old, same old frankly. What is perhaps more interesting, though, is the language that the defendants use in court now and that is referenced to in the article from the BBC.

Talk to any monitor or sab who has come up against a terrier man and they will testify on oath that terrier men don’t typically use phrases like ‘humanely despatch’ or show concerns about ‘not wanting to break the law’. Far more likely would be a barrage of threats of violence and swearing. Far, far more likely.

What to make of it, then? The suspicion (to put it mildly) has to be that defendants in situations like these know all too bloody well that they are breaking the law, that they are supporting illegal fox hunting, and that were they to get hold of either a fox or a badger there would be nothing remotely humane about the way that animal would die. But they will typically have been coached by a legal system that is still ‘wilfully blind’ to illegal foxhunting and that will happily teach some very old dogs some new tricks that they need to remember just long enough to get acquitted and let out to break the law again…Even those at the top of this vile game aren’t averse to a little coaching on throwing up ‘smokescreens‘ to break the law, as we all found out at the tail end of last year

But as we say, the case is still in court so we won’t comment.


Men deny interfering with active badger setts in Devon

Two men have denied interfering with badger setts in use.

Nathan Bowes and Seward Folland were filmed by hunt saboteurs as they blocked entrances to a badger sett in woodland in Devon, in November 2019.

Mr Bowes, of Brixworth, Northampton, told Exeter Magistrates Court he put nets around the sett after he had checked it was not in current use.

He said he checked for signs because he would not have wanted to break the law.

Mr Bowes, 26, was a kennel man for the Eggesford Hunt at the time and said soon after getting to the spot three hunt saboteurs wearing balaclavas turned up.

He told the court he packed up the nets to try and diffuse the situation.

He said he was there to “humanely dispatch” a fox which had gone to ground with a pistol but it was unsafe to do so and he left on his quad bike.

He said he was helping out the landowner who had a pheasant pen nearby.

The court heard he returned the next day and found peanuts on the ground and several cameras, saying: “I felt I was being framed.”

Seward Folland, 75, of Puddington near Tiverton, Devon, was a terrier man for the hunt that day, something he had done for 45 years.

He said Bowes laid nets to “bolt the fox in the net to be humanely dispatched“.

He told the court: “It was a badger sett at one time.”

The prosecution have said it is not in dispute that footage showed them blocking the entrance to the setts with earth, debris and nets.

The issue is whether the sett was active and if there is evidence that it was being used by badgers at the time.

The two men deny a total of three charges of interfering with badger setts and their trial continues.

BBc News, Men deny interfering with active badger setts in Devon, 06/July/21