Dogs have been seized, a gun retrieved and a man and woman arrested on suspicion of using the animals to bait badgers. Fourteen police officers and six from the RSPCA burst into the home in Priest Weston, near Bishop’s Castle, in a dawn raid. The couple, who are in their 30s, were arrested at the home and later bailed pending further investigations.
A rifle, believed to have been used for hunting, was also seized from the home and is being forensically tested for evidence.
Sergeant Adrian Woolley, of West Mercia Police, said officers conducted Police said a warrant was executed just before 6.30am yesterday.
He said the warrant was drawn up following suspicions dogs were being used to “fight wild animals and to hunt wild animals”.
“We made two arrests, a male and female in their 30s,” Sgt Woolley added. “In addition to the animal welfare offence a firearm was seized. The firearm is suspected to be unlawfully possessed. Intelligence was gained to indicate that they were involved in the illegal use of dogs to be set on badgers, which has caused unnecessary suffering to all animals involved. During the warrant, dogs were seized with injuries consistent with those sustained during the fighting and baiting of badgers. Badgers when under attack leave injuries to a dogs lower lip and jaw. Those involved in this type of illegal wildlife crime are not likely to seek proper veterinary attention and thus leaving the dogs to suffer pain, trauma and a reduced quality of life. The dogs have been seized and taken immediately to a vet to be checked over. They will receive the care and medical attention they need. The RSPCA and the West Mercia South Shropshire Safer Neighbourhood team will continue to address wildlife crime.”
Badgers are protected animals along with the setts or burrows they live in.
Under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, in England and Wales it is an offence to wilfully kill, injure or take a badger, or attempt to do so; cruelly ill-treat a badger; dig for a badger; intentionally or recklessly damage or destroy a badger sett, or obstruct access to it; cause a dog to enter a badger sett; or disturb a badger when it is occupying a sett.
Anyone who has further information can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or the RSPCA can also take an anonymous call on 0300 1234 999. Sergeant Woolley said a great deal of these offences were reported using this method.