FARMER and former magistrate has been fined for trapping and shooting a
badger which dug up his garden.
RSPCA yesterday warned people against killing the animals after dairy farmer
and former High Sheriff of Dyfed Richard Harold James, 77, caught the badger
in a snare near his Pembrokeshire home and blasted it to death at close
range with a shotgun.
ex-JP was given fines and costs totalling almost £3,000 by Swansea
Magistrates yesterday (tue) for killing a protected animal and using a snare
to trap it. He shot the animal twice near his home at Home Farm on the Stackpole
Estate in Pembrokeshire just before last Christmas. James then threw the
animal onto a slope leading on to National Trust land.
was witnessed by National Trust worker David Jarman who works on land near
Home Farm. He went back to his office and called in the RSPCA. James, former
chairman of the Clynderwen and Cardigan Farmers Co-Operative, later told
an RSPCA inspector who questioned him about the killing: “What
about the damage badgers cause us?”
Tarrant, prosecuting, said the RSPCA brought the case because it felt not
to have prosecuted would have diminished legislation protecting badgers
irrespective of the Welsh Assembly Government’s planned cull of the
creatures in West Wales in an attempt to eradicate bovine TB. And after
the case, RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben said: “We hope this case
will send the message that killing badgers without a licence is illegal.
“The Welsh Assembly Government may be pursuing a cull under special
measures in its bid to prevent bovine TB but the fact is badgers are still
protected by law and unlicensed killing of them will lead to court.
“Do not take the law into your own hands.”
Hayden, (corr) defending, said his client had no previous convictions, had
co-operated fully with the RSPCA and had an impeccable record of distinguished
public service in West Wales. He produced photographs of the defendant’s
garden and described the damaged caused by the badger as “extensive
and messy”. He added:
had been a problem for some time which he had tried to address using an
electric fence and sonic devices none of which worked.
“He felt if such damage was being caused to his property that he could,
and he accepts now he was in error, take action in this way.”
said James shot the badger twice because he wanted to make sure he was killing
it humanely. Mr Hayden told magistrates: “Whichever side you are
on, the Welsh Assembly Government has decided to take action to eradicate
a large proportion of badgers in the county where the defendant lives by
first trapping then shooting them. “I think that is something the
court should bear in mind when coming to its sentence.”
Hayden then asked the court to consider a conditional or absolute discharge.
But the magistrates imposed the full amount of costs £1,461.21 (including
two vets’ post mortem examinations) and fined James £1,000 for
killing a protected animal and £500 for using a snare to trap it.
Mr Hogben said afterwards the near £3,000 total was a clear signal
to anyone tempted to unlawfully kill badgers that the courts would take
the matter “very seriously”. After hearing that James
got £3,000 a month from his role as consultant in his family dairy
farming concern, the magistrates gave him 28 days to pay the £2,961.21
fines and costs. Mr Hogben added: “Our advice to people who have trouble
with badgers digging in their garden is first to consult with a local badger
are badger proof fences that can be used or various sonic devices and one
method is to feed badgers so they will not bother digging in to a garden
to get worms or other food.”