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Police issue alert on badger baiting

9th December 2003 - The Herald

POLICE and animal rights groups are urging the public to be alert after an increase in the number of badger-baiting incidents across Scotland.

In recent months there has been growing evidence the barbaric practice has been taking place in Lanarkshire, Glasgow, and the Borders.

Badger-baiting involves locating a badger in its set underground by sending down a Jack Russell terrier wearing an electronic device that can be tracked from the surface.

Once located, the hunters use spades to dig out the terrified animal and, when it tries to bolt for freedom, lurcher dogs pursue it for the kill.

Strathclyde Police said the latest set to be discovered disturbed was beside the River Avon, near Larkhall Academy, Larkhall. Police believe the offenders had spent a number of hours at the scene, where several types of dog prints were found.

Constable Phil Briggs, the wildlife crime officer for Q Division, said badger-baiting was viewed as a serious crime and extra patrols were being carried out in known areas of activity.

"We are asking the public to remain vigilant in rural areas for this type of activity and they should report any suspicions to their local police office. On no occasion should members of the public approach any person carrying out this type of activity," he said.

"Sometimes the animal is trapped in a cage and taken to a secret, predetermined location. There it will be put in a fight and bets placed on how long it will survive attacks by a variety of dogs."

Mr Briggs said: "I have located five such digs in the past two months. It's likely the badgers have been slaughtered by dogs. But there are probably more illegal digs that go undetected."

Police warned that offenders face a maximum of six months in prison, a 6000 fine, or both. It is also an offence to use dogs for such criminal activities.

Both acts carry custodial sentences.

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