NORTH Yorkshire Police have appealed for the public’s help in protecting badgers and dogs from illegal baiting.
A disturbed badger sett was recently found in the county and police are now investigating whether this was a result of the blood sport.
Badger baiting, when a badger is forced to fight a succession of dogs, is often fatal to the badger and can result in the dogs also sustaining serious injuries.
PC Vanessa Bateson, wildlife crime officer, condemned the “barbaric” activity, and asked members of the public to contact police if they had any information about it. PC Bateson said: “The terriers used often suffer terrible injuries, usually to the lower jaw, as the badger will swing upwards with its front legs to fight the dog off.
“Unfortunately, these injuries usually go untreated as offenders will not take the dog to the vet for treatment for fear of exposing their illegal activities.”
People involved in badger baiting can be prosecuted under a number of laws, including the Protection of Badgers Act (1992), but police said it was vital suspected incidents were reported.
Interfering with a badger sett carries a maximum fine of £5,000 or up to six months’ imprisonment, and PC Bateson said she wants to see the practise eradicated in North Yorkshire.
She said: “The law is effective in that it gives the police powers to seize and detain anything that may be evidence of an offence under the powers of the Protection of Badgers Act.
“That means we can take a suspect’s dogs, tools and even their vehicle.
“More importantly, any items seized are liable for forfeiture at court which means they will never get them back.”
Anyone with any information about suspected badger baiting should phone PC Bateson on 0845 6060247, or phone Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
The disturbed badger sett being investigated by North Yorkshire Police was found at Ingleton, near Settle.