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Badger baiting alert in County Durham

30th August, 2002 - BBC News

Police and the RSPCA are investigating the latest attempts by gangs of criminals to dig badgers out of their setts in County Durham.

The badger baiters were spotted attempting to dig out the animals in villages close to Bishop Auckland.

Two weeks ago two badgers were found dead in woodland in the same area, close to a sett that had been dug out.

In the most recent incident, a gang of men tried to dig out badgers from a sett close to railway lines outside the town.

And another group was reported after being spotted digging at a sett in a field.

Animal welfare group Durham County Badger Group was alerted by a member of the public, and the information was passed on to police.

A spokesman for the trust said: "If we can all work together, with the help of the public, it can only be a matter of time before these people are caught."

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

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

They say badger baiters are often involved in other criminal activities and many have convictions for violence.

Gangs are know to watch badger setts for months, sometimes years, to get at the animals.

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

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