England’s oldest golf club has been blighted by vandalism in the wake of a row over badgers.
Royal North Devon Golf Club is appealing for information after the first and 17th greens on its historic links course were vandalised overnight on Monday (April 22), as well as seven greens on its new Taylor Course.
Vandals also daubed 'killer' and 'killers' around the entrance to club.
The vandalism followed accusations the club had blocked entrances to a nearby badger sett with rubble during works on the course.
The club, which was founded in 1864, denies those accusations and said its staff are aware of 'where key wildlife habitats' are on the course.
Police are investigating criminal damage at the golf club, and are asking anyone who saw anything suspicious to come forward.
A statement from Royal North Devon Golf Club said: “Royal North Devon is a golf club which prides itself on being part of an area of outstanding natural beauty, and at the sheer variety and vibrancy of wildlife on and around our course.
“On the evening of April 22 the club was victim to a number of acts of vandalism, prompted by incorrect claims that the club had caused damage to a badger sett.
“Our green staff are aware of where the key wildlife habitats are on our course, and always avoid causing any damage or disruption to these areas.
“We can confirm that no badger sets were damaged by any rubble the club had deposited during its recent works on the course, and our club would be happy to invite in any concerned or interested local groups to discuss how we operate a busy golf course whilst also protecting and being sensitive to the natural ecosystem on Northam Burrows.
“It is a shame that in this instance there were acts of unnecessary vandalism on our premises before any conversation with the concerned group could take place.
“We are working closely with the Badger Conservation Society and take our responsibility for local wildlife seriously.”
Anyone who saw anything suspicious between 9.30pm on Monday, April 22 and 5.45am the next day, or may have any information related to the offence, is sasked contact police via 101 or email@example.com, quoting crime reference CR/035269/19.