Brutal and Barbaric
Badger baiters have been operating in Southwell.
Two men dressed in camouflage were seen digging for badgers in a field near Nottingham Trent University’s Brackenhurst Campus.
They fled when they were challenged by a member of the public.
They left two badly injured terrier dogs behind that they were using to locate badgers.
The RSPCA Inspector for the area, Mr Ian Callingham, described badger baiting as barbaric.
“It is horrible,” he said. “There is no justification for it.
“This incident was horrendous. It will have caused great distress to the badger and to the dogs which sustained serious wounds from the badger fighting back.
“The people who do it are intelligent people with a really good knowledge of wildlife but use it for the wrong reasons.”
Mr Callingham said the men who were disturbed also left a spade behind.
“My first thought was that they were going to batter the badgers with the spade,” he said.
“To carry a badger away you need a big box and the two dogs would not have been able to kill the badger.”
Mr Callingham said badgers were very protective at this time of year as cubs were being born.
Although they were not usually aggressive animals they would defend themselves.
The dogs were wearing tracking-device collars that send a signal out when they are underground.
When the tracker stops moving the baiter knows the dog has met a badger underground and digs down to get the badger.
Mr Callingham said badgers were caught and used to train dogs to kill or just to kill the badger.
“It is an ancient and barbaric sport and people do it for the sheer pleasure of killing the badger,” he said. “It is a strong animal so it is a test.”
He said baiters sometimes broke a badger’s back legs and jaw to make it easier for the dogs.
Remote farms or lorry containers are used as fight locations. Mr Callingham said he had even found a bedroom converted into a fighting ring.
“At the root of it is money and gambling,” he said.
“You could pass these people in the middle of Southwell and not know what they do.”
Mr Callingham said people thought badger baiting took place at night but it mostly happened during the day because badgers were nocturnal.
The two men in Southwell were seen on Friday afternoon.
Those involved in badger baiting can travel hundreds of miles to dig a badger set.
“They may be local, they may be miles away but someone would have seen two people come back in camouflaged gear covered in clay and minus two dogs,” said Mr Callingham.
An average of one incident a week of badger baiting is reported in Nottinghamshire, although it is not common in Southwell.
The field where the latest incident happened was last targeted around five years ago.
“If these characters get away with it they could come back again or go on to other areas,” said Mr Callingham.
It is illegal to kill or injure a badger and to interfere with a set. The punishment is a £5,000 fine and a six month prison sentence. Anybody found guilty of cruelty to dogs faces a year in prison and could be fined up to £20,000 or both
The RSPCA and Nottinghamshire Police are investigating the incident and anyone with information should call the police on 0115 9672080.
More by this authorPeter Harris