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Fresh Warnings over Badger Baiting

8th December 2003 - The Scotsman

By Louise Gray, Scottish Press Association
Badger baiting continues in Scotland despite increased public awareness, police and animal welfare groups fighting to end the blood sport said today. Police in Lanarkshire believe they have found a spate of badger setts dug up in pursuit of the animals to kill on the spot or take for further baiting. Meanwhile the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Scottish SPCA) are searching for a group of men and dogs understood to have been digging for badgers in Glasgow this weekend. Now both groups are calling on the public to help end the extremely sick practice.

South Lanarkshire wildlife crime officer Constable Phil Briggs found a disturbed sett in the Larkhall area recently in the latest in an increasing number of badger baiting incidents within the county.said six disturbed setts were found in the area in the last two months and several more would not have been discovered. A disturbed badger sett was also discovered in the Hawick area in the Borders earlier this month, according to Lothian and Borders Police. Constable Briggs said terrier-like dogs are sent down the sets to hound the badgers out and they are then taken alive to a badger-baiting arena, where an audience gathers to watch the badger fight terriers. Because badgers are such strong animals Constable Briggs said they are often maimed by taking out claws or teeth so the dogs are not badly hurt.

Under wildlife crime laws anyone found badger baiting can receive a 5,000 fine and/or six months imprisonment. But still the diabolical sport continues. Constable Briggs said the practice has been going on for hundreds of years and recent developments include putting electronic tags on the terriers to enable baiters to better locate where to dig for the badger. He said money is made from the gambling element of the barbaric sport.

Constable Briggs described baiters as violent, evil people and warned members of the public to report any suspicious activity direct to the police. Doreen Graham of the Scottish SPCA agreed baiters can be dangerous people and cautioned against approaching suspects. But she said public awareness is a key part of cracking down on the practice.

This weekend cyclists spotted four or five men with dogs digging by the river in Summerston, Glasgow and the Scottish SPCA are appealing for witnesses. The Scottish SPCA regularly works with the police and the government as part of Partnership Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) to crack down on crimes such as badger baiting.

Ian Hutchinson, development officer with the Scottish Badgers wildlife protection group said public awareness of badger baiting has increased but there was no room for complacency. He said police need more resources and people must be particularly vigilant in remote rural areas where badger baiting may go unnoticed. Mr Hutchinson added there have been up to eight cases of confirmed badger baiting in Scotland in the last year.

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