More than 30 homes visited during RSPCA’s badger crime crackdown

Charity’s inspectors out as part of Operation Meles

RSPCA inspectors have already visited more than 30 homes in England and Wales as part of a proactive crackdown on alleged badger crime.

The inspectors have already given welfare checks to nearly 90 animals – including dogs, as well as ferrets, birds of prey and some cats – as part of Operation Meles.

Operation Meles is a UK-wide multi-agency investigation aimed at gathering intelligence following reports of suspected badger crime and involvement in such activity. The RSPCA is proactively visiting addresses in England and Wales during a week of action, in conjunction with the SSPCA in Scotland, USPCA in Ulster, the Badger Trust, Scottish Badgers as well as several police forces.

The RSPCA officers have identified several targets linked to alleged badger crime from reports to the charity’s cruelty line.

Chief inspector Ian Briggs, the RSPCA’s lead on Operation Meles, said: “Badger crime is a constant blight on the British countryside. Catching those responsible for the sickening persecution of one of our most iconic wild animals remains one of our top priorities.

“It is our aim, during this week of activity as part of Operation Meles, to build up our ever expanding portfolio of intelligence that will help us catch those people who think it is acceptable to go into our countryside and cause untold suffering to badgers for their own sick entertainment.”

In addition to the visits by RSPCA inspectors, three warrants in conjunction with local police forces across England have been carried out. More are planned for the rest of the week. Nine dogs in total have been seized during the warrants, and two people have been interviewed on suspicion of offences under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, with one arrest so far.

Badger baiting – where dogs are deliberately used to attack badgers – has been in existence since medieval times, along with other ‘blood sports’ such as cock fighting, bear baiting and dog fighting. It was banned in 1835, but still continues today.

Badger digging and interference with badger setts is often done to find, and probably kill, badgers. It is considered a sport itself by those involved, although it was banned in 1973.

Keighley man Anthony Lee was this week told by magistrates in Bradford that he can expect a jail sentence after he admitted taking part in barbaric badger baiting.

Sickening footage of specially bred bull lurcher dogs attacking a badger was found on Lee’s mobile phone, which was seized when he handed himself in following a series of warrants executed by police and covert RSPCA inspectors in Keighley in February last year.

Lee, of Newtown Court, appeared before Bradford Magistrates Court on Wednesday (28.3.12), where he admitted three charges of attending an animal fight, under section 8 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. He is due to be sentenced on 22 May, again at Bradford Magistrates Court.

RSPCA inspector Carroll Lamport said: “It is satisfying after so many hours of work and Lee challenging the case right up until the last minute, that he has accepted the strength of evidence against him.

“The suffering that the badger would have suffered during the attack that is seen on the footage seized from Lee is immeasurable.

“You are essentially watching two dogs ripping apart a badger that is fighting for its life. You simply can’t put into words the horror of what is on that footage.”

 

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Notes to editors

 

Footage of badger baiting from the Anthony Lee case is available upon request from the RSPCA national press office by contacting 0300 123 0244 or press@rspca.org.uk Please be warned, the footage shows graphic scenes of animal cruelty.

 

RSPCA, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9RS
Press office direct lines: 0300 123 0244/0288 Fax: 0303 123 0099
Duty press officer (evenings and weekends) Tel 08448 222888 and ask for pager number 828825
Email: press@rspca.org.uk Website: www.rspca.org.uk

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