EFFORTS are being stepped up to catch Clydesdale criminals engaging in the cruel practice of badger baiting.
Protection group Scottish Badgers is cracking down on perpetrators of the sick offence, with a two-week blitz running here until February 8.
“Badger baiting is an ongoing problem which is happening all the time in Clydesdale,” said Scottish Badgers development officer Susan Tierney.
“It is usually groups of men who do it. We hope to identify hotspots in Clydesdale over the next couple of weeks and try to target the perpetrators.
“Badger baiting is increasing here as far as we are aware.
“We really hope that members of the public will contact us if they are suspicious that people are involved in it.”
Badger baiting usually sees criminal gangs sending a dog (typically a terrier or a bull lurcher) into a badger sett with a sensor on its neck.
The men dig deep into the sett and locate the dog – which will often be found with a badger in its grip. They then dig the badger out and force it to fight with a group of dogs.
Shockingly, the men typically break the badger’s jaw or a hind leg to make it weaker and more vulnerable during the fight.
“The badgers and dogs end up with horrific wounds from the fighting,” Susan said.
“A lot of times, the men don’t even take the dog to a vet despite its horrific injuries.
“And the badger is always killed.
“These are horrific crimes because of the cruelty involved.
“Badger baiting has been classed as a sport for a long time and has been around for centuries.
“But I don’t know why anyone would want to do it.
“Nine times out of 10 it is men that are the perpetrators. We have never caught any women.”
South Lanarkshire is currently one of the ‘hotspots’ for badger baiting in Scotland; the many rural areas in Clydesdale are often popular sites for setts.
Susan, who reckons there could be “hundreds” of badger setts in Clydesdale, said that criminals caught badger baiting could be jailed for up to three years or receive an unlimited fine.
But she and her fellow Scottish Badgers members don’t feel that enough criminals are being caught and she’d like the public’s help in trying to catch those responsible.
Susan said: “Badger baiting is a cultural thing which usually involves individual groups of between four and seven men.
“It happens within families – the last case which saw a conviction was a father and son.”
Scottish Badgers – which was established in 1999 – is looking for more members to try to support its fight against badger baiting.
“If we can get the community involved then we can go a long way towards reducing badger baiting,” Susan added.
“We want any people who are suspicious about attacks having taken place on a badger sett to contact us as soon as possible.It’s also important that people who see terriers or bull lurchers with injuries contact either us or the SSPCA straight away, as such injuries could mean that the dogs have been forced to fight during badger baiting.”
Specific areas being assessed for badger baiting in Clydesdale over the next fortnight include Lesmahagow, Lanark, Carluke and Kirkmuirhill.
To contact Scottish Badgers with information, please call 01356 624851 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more at www.scottishbadgers.org.uk