The Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (USPCA) and the Northern Ireland Badger Group (NIBG) are expanding their Operation Brockwatch initiative after successfully protecting six well established badger families targeted by criminal gangs over previous years.

During year one of the project, the Brockwatch team worked in partnership with landowners and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to first of all pinpoint the badger setts and then monitored them very closely to protect them from further persecution.

The team have now identified a number of additional vulnerable setts that they will be monitoring closely over the second year of Operation Brockwatch.

Brendan Mullan, USPCA chief executive, said:

“We want to thank the landowners and the PSNI who have joined with us in a very effective rural partnership to stop this horrendous cruelty to both badgers and dogs.

We have been keeping a very close eye on a number of badger setts previously disturbed relentlessly and we will be watching even more setts over the coming months.

“We are asking everyone who spends time in our wonderful countryside to be vigilant and support Operation Brockwatch by reporting badger persecution without hesitation.

“Our advice is simple, if you see suspicious activity in the vicinity of a badger sett then ring the PSNI or Crimestoppers as quickly as possible and provide them with timely and accurate information so those involved can be apprehended at the scene of the crime or close by.”

Rebecca Millar, NIBG chair, commented:

We have been delighted with the success of the pilot. These passive nocturnal animals live in tight family units called clans and we are so glad that we have been able to work together to help protect the badgers and their setts that are sometimes hundreds of years old.

“We know from the video footage we have collected over the past year that these threatened badgers are currently thriving due to the added level of protection the Brockwatch team have put in place.

“We look forward to bringing even more setts under the Operation Brockwatch umbrella during the coming winter.”

Closing a loophole

The USPCA and the NIBG will offer all assistance to help all the relevant agencies to vigorously pursue and prosecute those involved in this vile cruelty to both badgers and dogs.

The group has said that the extremely cruel practice of digging out foxes is inexplicably still legal in Northern Ireland despite being banned in the UK and this practice has very close links to badger persecution and provides a loophole for the baiters, this loophole must be closed.

Making a report

Members of the public who witness ongoing sett disturbance should immediately call 999 to report the crime giving PSNI an opportunity to apprehend wrongdoers.

The public’s vigilance and help can assist the PSNI by doing the following:

  • Do not approach the people involved, draw attention to yourself or put yourself in danger;
  • If possible, record the numbers involved and their precise locality;
  • Are dogs being used?
  • Note the registration number, colour, make and model of vehicles.

If the motives of strangers seen in the locality seem suspicious, the PSNI non-emergency line 101 will assist. Anyone uneasy at contacting the authorities directly can use Crimestoppers by dialling: 0800 555 111.