HuffPost Weird News David Moye First Posted: 02/28/12 07:08 PM ET Updated: 02/29/12 10:16 AM ET
There is a grave problem at a British cemetery: Badgers are robbing the graves.
The rascally creatures have tunnelled under coffins and even excavated bones and human remains at Radnor Street Cemetery in Swindon, a city in the southwestern part of England about 181 miles from London.
The graveyard has been around since 1881 and holds 33,000 deceased Brits. It's been only recently, however, that the badgers have become a problem, according to the BBC.
It seems the tenacious badgers have burrowed under numerous graves and bringing bones to the surface, a distressing situation for the relatives of those interred there.
Mark Sutton, of the Friends of Radnor Street Cemetery, told the Swindon Advertiser that he thinks badgers are "lovely," but wishes they didn't like the cemetery so much.
"In some places they have burrowed right under the graves, toppling some headstones and more disturbingly, depositing human bones on the surface," he told the paper. "Two or three years ago I received a phone call from a distressed person to say vandals had struck. I visited the cemetery to see the grass completely torn up. I have never seen it so bad. It wasn't vandals but the very cute badgers."
However, a spokesperson for the Swindon Town Council says nothing can be done to remove the grave-disturbing critters because the cemetery was designated a nature reserve in 2005, making it illegal to badger the badgers.
"Licenses to move badgers are only granted in exceptional circumstances," the source told the BBC. "There have been occasions over the years where human remains have been found above the ground in the cemetery and we have reverently re-interred these as close to their original graves as possible."
That's a lot of work for volunteers like Rev. Simon Shouler, who has been forced to carry out regular patrols to pick up stray bones, store them and re-inter them all in a new grave, according to the Telegraph.
Because the setts -- or dens -- are under or in the grave, he says that he is not allowed to bury the bones in their rightful place.
"I have been told to carry out a monthly bone patrol, collect them all up and re-inter them in a new grave," he told the Telegraph. "It is ridiculous. If I decided to dig up a grave to build an extension for the church or something, there would be hell to pay, yet here we have people who are having their bones scattered at the whim of someone sitting in an office miles away.
Although locals like Rev. Shouler have a bone to pick with the grave-robbing badgers, help could be on the way by this summer.
The Swindon Town Council is looking into building one-way doors at the opening of the setts that would allow the badgers to exit, but not go back inside.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article featured a photo of a honey badger, an animal not native to England.