The RSPCA have issued a warning that the number of badger baiting incidents is on the rise in England and Wales but the number of convictions are falling. In 2009 there were 255 reports of badger baiting with 11 convictions. Last year in 2010 there were 355 incidents but only 5 convictions.
Welsh Valleys a hotspot for badger baiting.
The Welsh valleys are a particular hotspot for badger baiting with gangs of young people taking their dogs out to the countryside to take part in the illegal blood-sport. The situation in Wales has led to a special Crimestoppers campaign supported by Naturewatch and the Countryside Commission for Wales.
Last years figures are disappointing when you consider that reports of badger baiting to the RSPCA had fallen to a low of just 74 in 2004 – the year after digging out badger setts was made illegal. Badger baiting with dogs has been illegal since 1837. The biggest fear is that the numbers reported to the authorities are just a tiny tip of a giant iceberg.
Injuries to dogs from badger baiting.
Often the first that the authorities become aware of the problem is when a dog is taken to the vet for treatment to injuries sustained in a fight against a badger. Badgers can be valiant fighters which is what attracts those who enjoy fighting with dogs. While the badger may be helplessly outnumbered by the dogs set upon it the badger can still inflict serious injuries.
One of the tell-tale injuries to dogs when they have been involved in badger baiting is skin pulled up from bites to their throat area. It’s an injury known as de-gloving as it is like pulling off the skin of the dogs jaw in the same way as you would peel of a glove.
The gangs are now breeding new types of dogs to take on the badgers with a cross breed between the lurcher and the illegal pit bull terrier a favoured dog used by the badger baiters.
Badger baiters involved with other serious crime.
As with all wildlife crime badger baiters are not just content with setting dogs on one of our most persecuted species of the countryside. In a recent survey of wildlife crime police officers 98% of the responding officers believed that badger baiters were also involved with other serious crime.
The same survey highlighted that crimes against badgers was the second most significant wildlife crime undertaken in England and Wales with poaching being at the top. The increase in badger baiting and persecutions has increased so much since 2005 that the National Wildlife Crime Unit has placed it on the priority list which requires police forces to find funds and manpower to fight the crime.
September also saw the launch of a UK wide police operation called Operation Meles which is am intelligence led operation to crack down on badger baiters who often travel large distances and cross police authority borders in order to carry out their activities.
- Crimestoppers: badger baiting appeal.
- Wales Online: Shocking rise in badger baiting.
- Naturewatch: Police Wildlife Officer Survey April 2011. (pdf)
- Badger Trust: Operation Meles. (pdf)