WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES – Networks of primitive hunters are getting their vile kicks by watching their dogs maul badgers in woods on the edge of towns in Fife, Ayrshire and Lanarkshire.
27th July 2020
The growing menace of urban badger baiters is being tackled by a team of amateur detectives.
Networks of primitive hunters are operating in woodlands on the edges of bustling Scottish towns.
The secret societies are linking thugs from former mining towns in Fife, Ayrshire and Lanarkshire to use dogs to prey on big sett networks during night-time killing sprees.
The hunters then share their grisly videos and photos of the slaughter via private social media messaging.
Badger Scotland has sent volunteer agents, armed with notepads and cameras, to check out scores of sites, with CCTV cameras on hotspots that are known to be targeted by depraved wildlife killers.
The Record visited sites in the Clyde Valley woodland, near Motherwell, where tell-tale clues have been identified that reveal badger baiters are on the prowl.
Volunteer Sophie Shields, 22, said some areas are rife with hunters who learn the ways of illegal hunting from their fathers.
Sadist baiter caged after raid on home
In February, sadistic Conran Connor was jailed for badger baiting in the woods close to those visited by the Record.
Connor, 21, of Wishaw, Lanarkshire, was given 21 weeks jail and banned from having any contact with animals for 15 years.
Hamilton Sheriff Court heard how he admitted keeping dogs for fighting, causing them to fight badgers and asking another man to film the activity.
Sheriff Mhairi Mactaggart told Connor: “These offences are, on any objective view, cruel and barbaric in the extreme.
“They have no place in a civilised society. Given their serious nature, the period of time over which the offences were committed and the injuries caused to these animals, my view is that nothing other than custody is appropriate.”
Scottish SPCA inspectors and police officers raided Connor’s home in May 2017, when he was just 18.
They found evidence that linked him to dog fighting over the previous eight months.
She added: “We hear reports of setts being disturbed and we check them out. We often see setts that have been dug out and signs that dogs have been used to get into the sett to attack and harass the animals inside.
“Often there will be evidence of an area set aside for the badger to be set upon by dogs.
“It’s hard to get your head around why anyone would want to behave like this but it’s so widespread in Scotland it’s hard to put a stop to it.”
Sophie said south Lanarkshire is a hotbed for the practice.
She said: “We do a lot of surveys around here. If we hear of badger deaths on the road we can identify where they are likely to be and it’s pretty sad to report that so many of the setts we find are under threat.
“There is certainly a cultural association with the former mining towns, like a knowledge being passed through generations.
“But it’s enhanced by the sharing of information via social media and there is electronic technology to locate dogs underground.”
Terriers such as Jack Russells and Patterdales are sent down badger setts, often suffering death or mutilation of their faces. Bigger dogs are used to rip the badgers apart once they are dug out by baiters.
One of the Lanarkshire sites is managed by the RSPB, which passes on any suspicions of animal cruelty to counterparts in the Scottish SPCA.
Warden David Anderson said: “We are primarily looking out for the welfare of birds but there is a lot of crossover in animal welfare and we have a decent instinct for when things are amiss.”