BADGERS are tearing through gardens and fences in a Leigh street.

Up to three families have been ripping up lawns and damaging gardens in North Street and Alexandra Road.

Homeowners have called the council as well as Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), but they have said nothing can be done as badgers are a protected species.

Debbie King, of North Street, is now considering putting a petition together to force the authorities into action.

She said: "They are lovely to see but what they're doing is a nightmare.

"They try to burrow under the fence but if they get stuck they end up just coming through the fence panels.

"We're getting fed up of it.

"The racket is unbelievable, pooing everywhere, digging up flowers and they're breeding too.

"As soon as it gets dark you will hear them coming out and crying.

"We're due to have our garden done soon but we can't have grass, we're having to go for slabs.

"There are quite a few of us getting together to do the petition now.

"One person's even moved out now because it got so bad."

Norman Westcott, 72, of North Street, often sees the badgers from his back window and does not know how to stop them.

He added: “I see four or five of them at a time.

"People are putting concrete slabs down under the fences but they just go straight through the fence.

"It has been an issue for maybe five years now, they seem to disappear for a little while and then come back."

Another resident of North Street, who asked not to be named, only moved into their property in October and was not informed of the badger problem before the move.

She said: "We want to be able to enjoy the garden but we don’t know what to do.

“They’ve gone through the shed and the fence and the lawn is full of holes.”

The badgers are not just confined to North Street though. Their trail of destruction has made its way into the neighbouring Alexandra Road.

One resident, who asked not to be named, has even contacted the Government about the issue.

She added: “They seem to have taken a real liking to our garden – we don’t have a lot of it left really.

“I’ve spoken to the council and to Defra and they can’t do anything as badgers are protected.

“They seem to have more rights than us as humans, they’re destroying the land that we own and anything that we leave outside.”