Derbyshire Police appeal over badger baiters

Residents and walkers in the High Peak and Derbyshire Dales are being asked by police to look out for signs of badger baiting.

It comes after several incidents of badger cruelty in the county in recent months, Derbyshire Police said.

Residents have reported people going door-to-door asking where badger setts are.

Badger baiting involves a sett being dug out and dogs going in and chasing out any badgers.

'Abhorrent activity'

Sgt Darren Belfield, the force's rural, environmental and wildlife crime officer, said: "We are appealing to anyone who has information about people involved in badger baiting, digging or lamping to get in touch with the police or Crimestoppers immediately.

"It is a cruel and abhorrent activity which some people wrongly see as a sport."

Irene Brierton, from the Mid Derbyshire Badger Group, said: "They [badger baiters] are knocking on peoples doors to ask the location of setts and asking if people would turn a blind eye if the activity was going on.

"In our experience people do not turn a blind eye. It's amazing how brazen and open this can be."

Sgt Belfield added: "We don't want people to approach suspects directly, but to focus on what they have seen, where it is happening and any description of the people involved."

Badger baiting has been illegal in Britain since 1835 and the Protection of Badgers Act was introduced in 1992 to further protect badgers and their habitats, by making it illegal to interfere with a badger sett in any way.

Offenders face a penalty of up to six months imprisonment and a substantial fine, and landowners who knowingly permit badger digging can face prosecution.

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