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Stop badger baiting

Although the Badgers Act 1992 offers protection on paper, it does very little to stop the hard core of highly organised thugs who delight in persecuting badgers in West Wales where the so-called ‘sport’ is rife. It is a notoriously difficult and very time-consuming operation, often without success for numerous reasons. Equally difficult is achieving a successful prosecution. Unfortunately, many police forces do not view badger cruelty as important which means a lack of co-operation exists in many areas.

Naturewatch’s involvement started in 1996 when members of a Welsh badger group contacted the organisation. Naturewatch paid for surveillance equipment that enabled the badger group to investigate suspected badger diggers with the aim of catching them red-handed at their evil work. These men are well aware of the potential of being followed, which means a good measure of luck is needed to catch them on a badger sett. Naturewatch continued to fund surveillance activity for the group for a number of years with extremely pleasing results along the way.

Since our project, the police have launched a nationwide programme called Operation Meles. The aim is to convict or deter badger baiters and diggers, and to achieve consistency in recording and reporting offences. The operation involves every police force in the UK and has links with the National Wildlife Crime Unit and the animal welfare groups.