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Badger baiting alert in North East

21st August 2002 - BBC News

Police and RSPCA officials in County Durham are calling on people to be extra vigilant following a spate of badger baiting in the North East.

In the most recent incident, a set in Bishop Auckland was disturbed and a number of badgers died after suffering gunshot wounds to the head.

Criminals send dogs into setts to trap badgers, which are then dragged out and forced to fight dogs, or tortured and shot.

Now County Durham police officers say the public can help identify offenders who normally operate late at night in remote areas.

Badger baiters are often involved in other criminal activities and many have convictions for violence.

Chief Inspector Paul Stilgoe from the RSPCA said there was no justification for the crime.

He said: "There is no argument for controlling the numbers of badgers in the UK, as numbers are declining.

"It is organised criminals who are involved in these fights.

"They watch and survey setts, and will return months or even years later to get the badgers.

"The police are very committed to convicting these people."

Badger baiting is a bloodthirsty sport which was outlawed in the 19th Century.

Badgers are often sent into fights with jaws deliberately broken to give the dogs a better chance.

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