The Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Northern Ireland Badger Group have launched a joint strategy, ‘Operation Brockwatch’.
This initiative’s objective is to protect the badger population, their setts, and the many dogs wantonly sacrificed in ‘badger persecution’ a vile activity that stains our landscape.
Both animal welfare organisations have joined forces with concerned farmers and landowners to create an effective rural partnership whose objective is to stop badger diggers and baiters trespassing on farms with the intention of committing barbaric acts of cruelty on a protected species.
The Brockwatch project will be run as a pilot in the first instance at a number of sites which have experienced Badger baiting on multiple occasions.
These badger setts, identified as vulnerable, will be watched on a ‘round the clock’ basis using modern technology.
Rebecca Miller, chair of the NI Badger Group, stated: “Those involved in these despicable activities creep about our countryside at will and attack the vulnerable badgers setts and their residents year after year despite the creatures and their homes being fully protected by law.
“The dogs they use suffer appalling injuries and are often discarded dead in a ditch when they are no longer ‘fit for purpose’.
“Many of the people involved in badger persecution are also engaged in other forms of criminality.
“When on farms, it is also likely that the perpetrators are on the lookout for other criminal opportunities such as the theft of equipment or livestock.
“They are a plague to both landowners and to the defenceless animals they target, and a dynamic approach is required to halt them.
“Our Brockwatch initiative will at least deter the perpetrators if not catch them in the criminal act.
“The sinister people involved in this brutality to badgers are secretive and cunning but are certainly not invisible as we aim to show.”
Superintendent Kee, PSNI Service lead for rural and wildlife crime, stated: “We welcome this initiative as part of our wider Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) project.
“We would ask members of the public or landowners who suspect badger persecution or any other rural crime is being planned or taking place to contact the Police Service of Northern Ireland or Crimestoppers immediately.”
USPCA chief executive Brendan Mullan said: “We will be liaising with the PSNI on this project and will pass any evidence we gather to the authorities in a timely manner.
“We have the toughest animal welfare legislation in Europe with five-year custodial sentences, lifetime animal bans and £20,000 fines available to judges, but successful prosecutions for badger baiting are few due to, we believe under reporting to PSNI.
“We are determined to make all premeditated animal cruelty which includes dog fighting and badger baiting history and, together with our partners, we will ensure ‘Operation Brockwatch’ plays its part in making this happen.”