Illegal badger trapping on Barlow Hunt land.
The Hunt Investigation Team has once again uncovered evidence of illegal wildlife persecution within the Peak District National Park.
Acting upon reports of illegal badger trapping in Derbyshire in early spring 2018, HIT set up close surveillance on land associated with the Barlow Hunt. The Hunt Master was filmed setting the trap and baiting it each evening with peanuts. The Hunt Master returns each morning to check the trap, with a firearm. To take or kill a badger is a criminal offence.
The trap was set in late March – early April, when no licenses are granted for badger trapping due to dependent cubs remaining below ground in setts. Despite this, and despite the sub-zero temperatures and thick snow, the hunt master proceeded to set, bait and attend his trap. During the course of filming, numerous badgers were seen in the immediate area and one was caught in the trap. HIT’s cameras recorded it frantically trying to escape for 8 hours before triggering a release mechanism and escaping the trap! The badger ran off to safety.
The Hunt Master attended soon after with his firearm. Noticing the empty trap and distinctive ground disturbance from badger digging, he hastily removed the trap, no doubt fearing that weekend walkers had found and released the creature.
As a result of HIT’s video evidence, the RSPCA visited the Hunt Master to warn him that trapping badgers without a license is a criminal offence, in order to deter any further trapping.
This trap was set in private woodland in the Peak District, just yards from the RSPB/National Trust “Eastern Moors Partnership” nature reserve (grid reference SK 29498 76623). The reserve is actively managed to protect wildlife, yet HIT have evidenced the Barlow Hunt Master attempting to trap the very animals flourishing there. This is a recurring theme in wildlife persecution.
The Horsleygate Estate owns the private woodland, which is also used for shooting. The Estate receives substantial subsidies under the Environmental Stewardship awards scheme. This programme is designed to support landowners to deliver environmentally beneficial land management practices, but instead we see the illegal trapping of a protected species.
A second trap was found on the Hunt Master’s own land, in another wood which receives Countryside Stewardship subsidies. A dead badger was found close to an artificial fox earth in a third publicly subsidised wood.
Derbyshire has been in the process of applying for a badger culling license – part of the disastrous national bovine tuberculosis strategy. HIT has shown that before licenses were even granted, the law has broken and animals are suffering as a direct result. Badgers and their dependent young are being targeted by bloodsports enthusiasts who have taken it upon themselves to illegally trap protected wild animals. This sets an alarming precedent for cull practices in Derbyshire, and adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that the badger cull is hugely increasing illegal badger persecution.