Northern Ireland

Badger protection operation held in south Down

Heavier dogs like this one are used to kill the badgers
Image caption Heavier dogs like this one are used to kill the badgers

The PSNI and USPCA are visiting a number of premises in south Down under the auspices of Operation Meles.

Operation Meles is the UK-wide operation aimed at disrupting the activities of people involved in badger persecution.

It follows a USPCA operation over two years in which it tracked a Belfast-based gang.

The gang - one of nearly 20 identified - went out up to three times a week, using dogs to target several setts.

It is illegal to harm a badger or to damage a sett.

Menwhile, the Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) has called on any of its members who are aware of badger baiting on their farms to report it to the police.

President John Thompson said he was not aware of any farmers involved in the practice.

On Tuesday, the USPCA said it was shocked by the scale of organised badger persecution it had uncovered.

Mr Thompson said 99.9% of UFU members would not want to see the activity being practised on their farms.

"This does not do farming or the countryside any good at all. It needs to be stopped immediately," he said.

Warning

The USPCA believes some farmers and landowners have been turning a blind eye to badger baiting gangs digging on their lands. Many farmers believe badgers spreadto cattle, a claim still debated by scientists.

The USPCA obtained undercover footage which showed the Belfast gang digging at two setts.

Gordon Adair's exclusive reports on the USPCA operation will be broadcast on BBC Newsline at 18:30 GMT all this week.

More on this story

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites