South West Wales

Dylan Thomas cemetery in Laugharne damaged by badgers

Simon Hart MP (left) with concerned local residents at St Martin's Church cemetery in Laugharne
Image caption Simon Hart MP (left) meets concerned local residents at the cemetery

Badgers are digging up the cemetery where the poet and author Dylan Thomas is buried, causing damage to graves.

Relatives of people buried at St Martin's Church in Laugharne, Carmarthenshire, have complained to politicians about the problem.

The graveyard is visited by tourists from around the world who come to see the town where Thomas lived and wrote Under Milk Wood.

Church wardens are looking at improving fencing to keep the animals out.

The cemetery is one of the key locations in a literary pilgrimage which includes the boathouse near Thomas' home where he wrote his most famous work, and the nearby Brown's Hotel where he used to drink.

Image caption A simple cross marks Dylan Thomas' grave

Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire MP Simon Hart claimed parts of the cemetery have been so badly damaged that it looked "like a ploughed field" in places.

"I was contacted by a lady who has seen considerable damage done to her parents' grave," he said.

"Understandably she is very upset about it and she is also worried that it will undermine the headstone.

"This is not that uncommon a problem in graveyards across the country but because badgers are so heavily protected it does cause a headache for church authorities.

"This is a very beautiful graveyard and obviously a place of great meaning, not only to Dylan Thomas fans who visit it from all over the world, but to families with loved ones buried there.

"The badgers have caused a lot of damage, digging up the top few inches of soil so that it looks like a ploughed field in places."

Welsh government animal experts have confirmed the damage has been done by badgers.

Mr Hart said the church could apply for a licence to move the animals, but it was an expensive option which required a vet's presence and was not guaranteed to work.

The authorities are now looking at alternatives to removal, including improving fencing to keep the badgers out.

A church spokesman said: "We are taking steps to prevent them from entering the graveyard."

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