ANIMAL welfare officers last night appealed for help to track down sick thugs who set their dogs on a defenceless badger.
The badger baiters struck at a woodland area in the west of Barrhead but were spotted by a horrified member of the public, who raised the alarm.
When inspectors from the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reached the scene, they discovered the badger’s remains lying close to its sett, which had been dug up.
Now the race is on to catch the culprits before they strike again.
Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn, of the Scottish SPCA, said the practice of letting vicious dogs loose on badgers is “extremely cruel”.
He told the Paisley Daily Express: “A member of the public witnessed three men with dogs digging at a badger sett. However, these men fled the area when they were disturbed.
“When we arrived at the scene, it was clear that the sett had been disturbed and we found a dead badger close to the area.
“A post-mortem revealed that the badger had been deliberately killed and had suffered a painful death.
“Using dogs to fight a badger is extremely cruel as it causes severe injuries to both animals.
“This is a very serious crime and we are keen to find the people responsible. We have been following lines of enquiry but, unfortunately, we have been unable to trace the men who were seen digging the sett.
“We are now asking for the public’s help to identify them.”
Badger baiters often use certain breeds of dog which are specifically bred to take part in the horrific blood sport, which started in the 1700s.
Under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, it is an offence to deliberately injure or kill a badger or intentionally interfere with a badger sett.
Anyone found guilty of doing so can face stiff penalties, including a fine, a prison sentence or both.
The Scottish SPCA has asked the Express not to identify the exact location of the badger sett which was targeted as there are other setts nearby and welfare officers are keen to avoid any further attacks.
Anyone who has information about the Barrhead incident or any other badger baiting crimes is asked to call the Scottish SPCA animal helpline on 03000 999 999. All calls will be treated in the strictest confidence.