Badgers are putting a village at risk by digging through its flood defences, with water beginning to enter a nature reserve and a community orchard.
And after the recent rains, parish leaders in Congresbury, North Somerset, have been spurred into action, calling on the Environment Agency for help to stop the animals burrowing.
Gaps have appeared in the River Yeo’s reinforced banks – which have a large steel sheet barrier piled inside them – near the Millennium Bridge, and the problem became more noticeable during the recent heavy rain when levels of the River Yeo were at their highest for a number of years.
Parish councillor Ken Hill said: “Following the high river levels people noticed water seeping through the riverbanks and into the nature reserve, which is part of the Millennium Green.
“Obviously we are concerned that if this is allowed to continue, it could weaken the riverbanks and the flood defences. There are a number of homes along the High Street which could be affected.
“We have had very high water levels recently and the flood defences have been very successful in protecting homes and businesses in the village. We want them to stay that way.”
Badgers have been living on the river bank for years. A sett had to be removed during the building of the Millennium Bridge 15 years ago, with the creature moved back after it was completed.
The village has flooded on a number of occasions during the last century, the worst of which was in 1968 when 125 properties were flooded up to a depth of two metres.
Less serious flooding occurred in 2000 when the millennium green was flooded.
However, during 2012, the river reached some of its highest levels ever and was subject to a number of alerts.
Environment Agency spokesman, Paul Gainey, said: “A concrete bank was installed within the defences to stop this but the badgers managed to burrow around it.
“Interlocking metal sheeting was then installed in the riverbank which seems to have stopped the problem.
“At the moment we have no concerns that any badger activity is affecting the flood defences. However we will continue to monitor the situation.”