LOCAL criminals involved in arranging cruel fights between badgers and dogs will be tracked down and arrested.
That is the vow of the USPCA following the rescue of nine dogs and arrest of one man in Laurencetown last week. The latest raid has seen the district labelled a “hotspot” for badger baiting, where dogs are released into badger setts and the two animals are forced to fight their way out.
Badgers that survive, often with horrific injuries, are then brought to places where they are pitted against another dog while people place bets on which animal will kill the other first.
One of the dogs rescued in Laurencetown on Wednesday night underwent major surgery on Friday to repair what a police inspector said were some of the worst injuries he had seen.
USPCA officer David Wilson said the dog’s jaw was “in bits”. The animal protection body said this will be the first of more raids and arrests in the area.
“The arrest last week was a significant one and the intelligence that has been gathered since then will lead us in other directions,” said Mr Wilson.
“There will be more raids and intensive investigation around the same area.”
David explained that Co Down’s high badger population makes it a prime spot for those involved in badger baiting. “This area does seem to be a hotspot,” he said. “And as it is an ongoing problem there will continue to be more investigations into this issue.”
David said the public can play a vital role in ensuring those involved are caught.
“These people don’t act alone, they operate in gangs,” he said. “Some of them walk around the countryside in their combat gear and with crowbars and whatever other tools they use.
“We need the public to help us by coming forward and giving information to us or the police. These people must be stopped.”
The Northern Ireland Badger Trust’s Peter Clarke, based in Hillsborough, echoed Mr Wilson’s call.
“We fully support the USPCA and PSNI as they implement Operation Meles and applaud their successes of recent weeks,” said Mr Clarke.
“It’s all about combating Badger persecution by gathering intelligence and targeting offenders so anyone with information about these wildlife criminals and where they commit their clandestine offences should report it immediately to either the PSNI, USPCA or Crimestoppers - you will be playing a vital role in stopping these barbaric and nauseating pastimes once and for all.”
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