Saturday, October 16, 2010

Badger bodysnatcher

I've tasked myself with providing a particularly link-rich post about this story, after finding that I could illustrate it with a picture of the churchyard in question, rather than merely a stock photo of a badger.

The congregation of St. Remigius Church in Long Clawson, Leicestershire, U.K., are between a rock and a hard place, because they have identified a bodysnatcher in their midst but can do nothing about it. The culprit is a protected species and theirs is a protected property. In addition to prohibiting the taking, injuring, or killing of badgers, the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 made it a criminal offense to interfere at all with the sett (see def. 2, sense 2) of the beast. Combine that with concerns that there might have been a medieval house on the adjacent field and you have what a spokesman for English Heritage called "a complex issue where finding a solution to satisfy everyone is hard."

The church, dedicated to St. Remigius, dates back to the 12th c. and the churchyard contains 800 years' worth of buried remains, including those of the Bozon family, Lords of the manor from 1304 to 1539. The problem surfaced (pardon the pun) earlier this year when someone reported seeing a skull and a bone on top of the ground. Since then, 4 leg bones have been found - including one by a boy who took it home to his parents. The parish council sought the advice of a local badger group who suggested badger-proof fencing, so that the burrowing animals could be relocated to a nearby field. While Natural England was willing to grant a license, English Heritage advised that moving the badgers could cause more damage to the protected site.

Rev. Simon Shouler complains, “...there is nothing we can do other than to let them remain in the churchyard, digging up the remains of people who have been buried for several hundred years." They cannot even rebury the disturbed remains in their own graves for fear of breaking the law. Instead, he carries out regular patrols and gathers stray bones, storing them for reinterment in a new grave.


  1. EEEK! I wonder how they got around that act for the proposed badger cull. It's interesting that when it comes to interfering with the lucrative livestock industry (even though badger culls have been proven ineffective) the protection act is not a problem. It's not even mentioned in this article from the Guardian last month. I like Badgers, but they should really be able to protect the graveyard!


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