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A cluster of recent incidents has left a trail of dead badgers and deer while the “hunters” have been pictured posing for gruesome photos with their bloody trophies.
By Mark McGivern
17 APR 2017
Urban hunting gangs are using packs of dogs to kill deer, badgers and domestic cats.
The sick neds operate under cover of darkness at graveyards, golf courses and public parks, where herds of roe deer have made their home.
Their dogs can suffer horrific injuries but the “hunters” still pose for gruesome photos with their bloody trophies.
A sick thug holds two dead deer
Hotspots have emerged in Glasgow and Lanarkshire. But the Scottish SPCA have answered calls in all parts of Scotland, wherever wild animals live close to towns.
A cluster of recent incidents has resulted in dead badgers and deer in and around Strathclyde Park, Hamilton.
The Scottish SPCA’s special investigation inspectors have seized photographic material that shows evidence of:
● animals being snared before being baited live by dogs
● farmland being used for meet-ups by organised killing gangs
● domestic cats being torn apart by dogs
● terrified deer being coursed by running dogs before being savaged.
One undercover investigator said: “There has been a massive rise in crime with dogs – the urban hunting phenomenon – which is consistent with the rise in the populations of roe deer and foxes.
“We are seeing behaviour that would utterly shock most civilised people. We have gangs with specially bred dogs who are basically getting out late at night or in the early hours and killing anything their dogs get a scent of.
“They are laying snares, which are typically trapping foxes and deer, which are recovered live to be baited by their dogs.
“The dogs are treated just as cruelly, as they are often receiving terrible wounds from badgers, which go untreated by vets and can lead to agonising deaths.
“We are hearing of organised gangs in Scotland arranging to meet up with counterparts from England and Northern Ireland, who come along with their own dogs to the best hunting spots, hell-bent on causing carnage.
“We have heard of several cases of farmers being approached by seemingly genuine types, claiming they can help control their fox populations. They have been given access to the land, brought on their associates and held hunting parties with powerful lamps and wiped out everything that moved.”
The investigator said domestic pets have been targeted recently.
He said: “We have evidence of the hunters happening upon domestic cats, which have been shaken out of trees and ripped apart by the dogs.
“These people get a thrill from killing animals – they will give no quarter to pets, even other dogs that might be unlucky enough to come across their path. With deer, it would typically be young animals that are caught, the small roe deer, which people identify with Bambi.”
Dogs taken to kill sites by the gangs are often “bull lurchers” , running dogs bred from pit bulls and greyhounds.
The crossbreeds are advertised on websites for sale as being able to kill “all claw and feather”.
Patterdale terriers are favoured by badger baiters, who send them down into setts, where a badger fighting for its life will often rip the dog’s lower jaw to shreds – known as “degloving”.
Scores of dogs seized from cruel owners have been rehomed, saving them from typically short lives as hunters.
There has been a recent cluster of animal deaths in Lanarkshire, Scotland’s worst current hotspot.
In January, the mutilated carcass of a roe deer was found at the golf course in Strathclyde Park.
A similar grisly find was made a month later. Post mortems by veterinary pathologists proved they were killed by dogs.
Last month, witnesses reported seeing a man with a dog allow the pet to savage a deer at Belhaven Park, in the centre of Wishaw.
In January, a roe deer was found on an area of common ground in Alexandria, Dunbartonshire. It had been killed by hunting dogs, gutted and hung on a tree.
And in March, the body of another deer was found by gamekeepers at Greenock Golf Club. It had been ripped apart by dogs.
The Scottish SPCA investigated recent badger baiting on the site of the old Ravenscraig steelworks in Motherwell and at the nearby Riccard Johnston Park.
Other grisly finds have been made in Glasgow’s Garscadden Wood and Hogganfield Park and on parkland and golf courses in Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire.
Deer numbers have doubled in Scotland since the 60s and roe deer are now commonly seen on motorway verges and in parks, even in heavily built-up areas.
One of Scotland worst wildlife offenders is Andrew Mullen, from Uddingston, Lanarkshire.
He was convicted in 2012 of keeping dogs for fighting and was banned from keeping animals for life. He was given a six-month curfew and ordered to complete 200 hours of community service.
Inspectors who seized his computer found thousands of images of scumbags killing and torturing animals, including deer, foxes and badgers.
It was the first conviction in Scotland for keeping dogs for baiting wild animals since the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 came into effect.
Images found on his laptop showed up to 15 men and 35 dogs were involved.
Lurchers and terriers owned by Mullen, 42, all had scars to their faces and ears and some had teeth missing and trouble with their joints.
Colin Reid, 29, and brother David 27, were jailed in 2012 for taking part in dog fighting. Colin Reid, of Banff, Moray, got four months and his brother six months. Both men were banned from keeping dogs for five years.
In 2014, John Frame Murray, 59, and son John, 36, were banned from keeping dogs for 10 years for badger baiting.
The pair were found guilty of digging into and damaging a badger sett, with intent to use dogs to take or kill badgers after a trial at Hamilton Sheriff Court.
Investigators recovered three dogs from their homes which had severe injuries to their lower jaws, including torn lips and missing teeth.
Anyone forcing dogs to fight with other dogs or animals faces a £20,000 fine or six months in jail under current legislation.
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