A BLOOD sport swoop saw three men arrested in Northumberland.
The Operation Seal inquiry was set up jointly between Northumbria Police and the RSPCA’s special operations unit. It followed an intelligence-led operation into badger baiting and cock fighting in Northumberland.
The operation also investigated the baiting of other protected animals with dogs.
Search warrants were executed at three houses in the Lynemouth, Blyth and Whitfield areas of Northumberland under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and the Animal Welfare Act .
Three men, one aged 32 and two 21-year-olds, were arrested. Police said a number of items, believed to be connected with badger baiting, had been seized.
All three have been released on police bail pending further inquiries. Northumberland Area Command wildlife crime officer PC Andy Swinburne said: “Wildlife crime will not be tolerated and if someone sees offences occurring they should report it to Northumbria Police immediately.
“We would also ask that anyone who may have information about people committing wildlife crime to contact us and ask for their local wildlife crime officer.’’
Badger baiting is a brutal blood sport dating back to Victorian times and involves flushing a badger out of its sett and watching as a dog or pack of dogs attack it.
Baiters have been known to use transmitters to track the badgers and then dig them out of their setts.
After the badger has been killed, either by dogs, being stabbed or being battered with a spade, it is often placed at the side of road in an attempt to make it look like road-kill.
An estimated 10,000 badgers are killed every year by baiting and digging.
Earlier this year badger groups from across the North held a conference on Teesside because of the scale of illegal activities.
It was told that persecution of badgers is rife in the region.
In November last year Justin Lang and Christopher Hindmarsh were banned from keeping dogs for three years by Alnwick magistrates due to their badger baiting.
Hindmarsh, 28, of Alwinton Square, and Lang, 24, of Norham Road, both Ashington, were also ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid work.
The pair, both unemployed, admitted three counts of interfering with a badger sett.
Hindmarsh also admitted a further charge of attempting to kill, injure or take a badger.
Police found footage on Hindmarsh’s mobile phone of a badger being attacked by a dog. Lang had footage on his phone of a fox being attacked by terriers.
The defendants were each given a 12-month community order and ordered to abide by a three-month curfew.
As part of their present investigation, police are keen to trace a black terrier-like dog answering to the name Brock from the Lynemouth area.
Anyone with information on the dog or its whereabouts is asked to contact their local wildlife crime officer.
Wildlife crime will not be tolerated and if someone sees offences they should report it.