AN ANIMAL lover could not be buried in her chosen resting place after badgers invaded the graveyard.

Marian Down had picked a special spot in Durrington Cemetery in Worthing, which is known for its wildlife.

But her family had to make other plans when an active badger sett was discovered at the grave site.

Badgers are a protected species and it is illegal to interfere with a sett without a licence.

Peter Kennard, a funeral director at HD Tribe in Worthing, said he had been advised by the council to wait at least 51 days before they could use that area of the cemetery, forcing Ms Down’s family to find a different spot for her grave.

Mr Kennard said: “Ms Down was a funeral director for 30 years, which I find very ironic.

“And what makes it even more ironic is she was a huge supporter of wildlife.”

He said Ms Down regularly gave money to Worthing animal rescue charity Wadars.

He said her husband and son had been very philosophical about the coincidence and the fact that nature had stepped in.

“I can just imagine her sitting up there chuckling, seeing us running around looking for somewhere else to bury her because of the badgers,” Mr Kennard said.

The council said it was “taking steps” to deal with the badgers “as fast as we possibly can”.

Staff found two active setts and have fenced off the area.

A wildlife expert has been called in to find out how far the sett extends. It could take three to four weeks and the council may then ask for a licence to disturb or move the sett.

But it only has until the November 30, the start of the official badger breeding season.

Reverend Beverly Miles of All Saints Church in Findon Valley said: “It’s a concern for people who care for the wildlife in the cemetery, but also a great concern for people that have family and loved ones buried there.

“I have confidence that the council and their wildlife consultant will find a way forward.”

Worthing Borough Council’s bereavement services manager Kate Greening said: “We are doing all we can to preserve the integrity of the sections of Durrington cemetery affected by badger activity.

“As badgers are a protected species, we are required by law to secure permission from Natural England to carry out work at the cemetery which will hopefully encourage them to move to another area.

“Once that happens we can put in place measures to prevent them from returning.

“As this is an active site, we understand that residents will be deeply concerned about graves being affected.”