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Officers hunt for badger baiters

23 April 2007 - BBC News

Police have launched an operation to snare wildlife criminals who target badgers and poison eagles. Officers in Argyll have teamed up with wildlife charity Scottish Badgers to track down those responsible.

Strathclyde Police said some people appeared to be deliberately blocking and damaging setts on Seil Island. They said the damage had a serious impact on the badger population as the setts provide cover and are also a food resource for the animal.

Joe Connelly, wildlife crime co-ordinator for Strathclyde Police, said: "The initiative highlights the determination of the police, partner agencies and members of the public to prevent and detect badger crime. In recent years, officers have investigated a number of serious crimes to the badger population on Seil Island. This time we are concerned at what seems to be a premeditated attempt to rid the area of badgers. Badger baiting is illegal and I would like to remind the public that there are severe fines and the possibility of imprisonment for anyone who intentionally or recklessly disturbs or kills badgers."

Ian Hutchison, species protection officer from the wildlife charity Scottish Badgers, said they were increasingly concerned about the situation on the island.

He added: "Our local members have highlighted the problem and they are monitoring the ongoing situation in relation to the badgers on the island. It appears that at least four social groups have been exterminated and we are at a loss to understand why someone should wish to do this."

Wildlife criminals on Seil Island and the surrounding area are also suspected of poisoning eagles.

Argyll is home to the White-Tailed Sea Eagle and the Golden Eagle and is considered one of the best places in Scotland to see such birds.

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