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Badger baiting: yet another arrest made

It’s thought that more than 10,000 badgers are murdered by baiters every year in the UK. And on 25 January yet another man was arrested on suspicion of badger baiting in North Yorkshire.

Yorkshire Live reported that the man, in his twenties, was found with three injured dogs. The news website reported:

“Police found a disturbed badger sett and a dead badger nearby. The suspect was also arrested on suspicion of breaching a dog control order and theft of a mobile phone. He was quizzed and bailed by police pending further investigations.”

Protect The Wild covers stories like this all too often because badger baiting is so prolific. For example, on 19 December 2022, we reported that brothers Dale and Michael Rickerby were convicted of badger baiting after they had sent a bull terrier named Bronson into a badger sett. When the terrier had found a badger, the Rickerbys then dug out the sett. The court heard that Dale “bludgeoned the badger over the head” with a spade. The dead badger was then thrown to other dogs.

But it is the exception, rather than the norm, that men like the Rickerbys are caught. Because badger baiting usually happens in remote locations out of sight of the public, baiters usually murder with impunity.

Dogs are also victims of badger baiting

The Yorkshire man’s dogs were confiscated by the RSPCA. One of them had suffered serious injury, with deep cuts on her neck. Dogs often get horrific injuries while badger baiting, which involves terriers being sent into a badger sett to hold the animal at bay. Humans then dig the badger out of the sett, and dogs are set on the creature to tear her apart. The dogs’ injuries are often not treated by a professional, because a vet is likely to know the signs of badger baiting, and would therefore report the illegal activity to the police.

Abuse of terriers is all-too-common. Only this week, Protect The Wild recently reported on how a dog called Thugly was neglected, suffering injuries after being forced to fight animals by the very person who was supposed to be looking after her.

 

thugly
Thugly suffered serious injuries after being forced to fight animals. Photo via RSPCA

One of our most persecuted animals

Badgers are one of the UK’s most loved animals, and are, in theory, protected by law. But they’re one of our most persecuted creatures, not just by badger baiters, but by the fox hunting and shooting communities, too, and by the government itself as it authorises licences for its annual badger cull.

Protect The Wild’s Glen Black recently wrote:

“While badger baiting has its own dedicated groups, there is sometimes close ties to local hunting and shooting communities. A court convicted Rhys Davies, gamekeeper at a major Scottish shooting estate, to eight months in prison for badger baiting offences earlier this year. David Thomas, huntsman for Dwyryd Hunt in north Wales, was jailed for 22 weeks in 2018 after the RSPCA filmed him badger baiting. And disgraced former Tory PCC Jonathon Seed narrowly escaped a conviction in 2013 after he was caught involved in a sett dig out as master of the Avon Vale Hunt.”

Badger setts are blocked by the fox hunting community week in, week out, as they attempt to stop foxes from going seeking safety underground. On 31 December 2022 we reported on how Suffolk Police is investigating the Essex and Suffolk Hunt after monitors witnessed members of the hunt trying to force a fox to bolt from a badger sett. This incident is all too common: hunt saboteurs and monitors on the ground have countless photos and footage of other badger setts that have been blocked by hunts. Even our politicians are complicit: The Independent reported in 2019 that Jacob Rees-Mogg hosted a hunt meet when a badger sett was blocked.

Report badger baiters

We can all play a part to protect badgers. Stay vigilant: if you see suspicious activity around badger setts, you can call the police. You should also let your local hunt saboteur, wildlife defence and animal welfare groups know, so they can actively protect the setts on the ground. Please don’t approach badger baiters though as they are typically extremely violent.