by Heather Ryce

THERE ARE indications that badger baiting is on the rise all over Scotland, including across the different parts of Ayrshire. Scottish Badgers have been collecting data throughout the county since 2013 and by setting up volunteer groups to monitor badger setts, have found historical and current signs of this horrific crime.

Badger Sett 12

A typical opening to a badger sett.

Badger baiting typically involves groups of individuals, along with tools, locating a sett, extracting a single badger and pitting it against dogs in a bloody fight to the death.

Smaller dog breeds such as Patterdales are usually equipped with a radio collar and forced underground.

“The dogs are sent underground to basically hold the badger in place and the people on top have a device to monitor where the tracking device is – they’ll then dig down. Usually, while underground, the dog is engaged in fighting with the badger so there is an awful lot of noise going on.” Emily Platt (Scottish Badgers Operations Coordinator)

When exposed, the badger is pulled from the ground by the baiters where it is then pitted against other dogs of a larger size. The terrified animal is either forced to fight mere feet from its home or is moved to another place in underground baiting rings.

Crowning Down Hole

Scottish Badger volunteer locates a ‘crowning down hole’ – evidence of badger baiting.

One way or another, the badgers always die.

Alongside the horrendous injuries incurred by the dogs, baiters often deliberately wound badgers before the fight to make it last longer. Badgers are formidable animals with extremely strong jaws so handicapping the mustelid also makes for a ‘fairer’ fight. Often the dogs used in this blood-sport are horribly wounded too.

“I heard a story when I was out with the police about a chap who openly accepts that he breaks a badger’s back before he fights them with dogs.” Steve Jackson-Matthews (LUC Director and Head of Ecology)

Steve Jackson-Matthews

Steve Jackson-Matthews discusses badger baiting.

Badger Baiting was first made illegal in 1835 under the Cruelty to Animals Act and these animals have since been granted further safeguard by the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.

However, with illegal persecution increasing, Scottish Badgers are asking the public to be vigilant and report anything suspicious to help protect one of our most iconic wildlife species.

Watch the full report below:



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