Illegal hunters’ dogs seized in wave of raids An­i­mal

The Sunday Post (Newcastle) - - NEWS - By Gor­don Black­stock GBLACKSTOCK@SUN­DAY­POST.COM

Cam­paign­ers call for ac­tion to halt an­i­mal killing spree

pro­tec­tion of­fi­cers have launched a wave of raids tar­get­ing Scots hunt­ing foxes, bad­gers and deer with dogs.

A Sun­day Post in­ves­ti­ga­tion found so­cial me­dia pages on which hunters post pic­tures of them­selves with their dogs and an­i­mals they have killed.

Raids in Fife ear­lier this month, fol­low­ing an 18-month in­ves­ti­ga­tion, saw 10 dogs seized from a dis­used farm build­ing. In re­cent weeks, 39 dogs linked to illegal hunt­ing, some with hor­rific in­juries, have been con­fis­cated.

One small ter­rier dog was left blinded af­ter pro­longed pe­ri­ods un­der­ground hunt­ing an­i­mals.

The breeds in­clude ter­ri­ers and an Amer­i­can pit bull be­lieved to have been used to breed an­i­mal-hunt­ing dogs. Three men are ex­pected to face le­gal ac­tion.

Mean­while, of­fi­cers from the SSPCA an­i­mal wel­fare char­ity last week vis­ited the home of a Port Glas­gow man where they seized a dog.

He is a mem­ber of a Face­book closed group called Run­ning Dogs, Dig­ging Dogs. Its home page warns “no cop­pers or an­tis are al­lowed”, adding: “If you don’t like what you see or read please don’t look.”

His per­sonal so­cial me­dia page also fea­tures a pic­ture of a man stand­ing over a dead fox. You can­not see his face. The 23-year-old man did not re­spond to our re­quests for an in­ter­view.

An un­der­cover in­ves­ti­ga­tor with the Scot­tish SPCA said: “We be­lieve thou­sands of Scots could be in­volved. The more we un­cover, the more we fear it’s the tip of the ice­berg. It’s the worst it’s been.

“There are hotspots in former in­dus­trial towns in places like La­nark­shire, Fife and Ayr­shire but it re­ally goes on ev­ery­where. It’s been passed down from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion but in to­day’s con­nected world, so­cial me­dia is mak­ing it worse.

“They use dogs to hunt foxes, bad­gers and deers but it can even be the neigh­bour­hood cat.” In Scot­land, the Wild Mam­mals Pro­tec­tion Act of 2002 banned hunt­ing foxes, bad­gers and hares with dogs.

Break­ing the law can mean up to six months in jail or a £5,000 fine.

Hunters of­ten seek out an­i­mals’ dens and dig them out, in or­der to make them fight with dogs. The fights are of­ten filmed and cir­cu­lated on­line.

Ed­die Palmer, of Scot­tish Bad­gers char­ity, said: “Peo­ple say to us, ‘I thought it was sus­pi­cious when I saw a cou­ple of peo­ple out for a walk with dogs and a spade’.

“My mes­sage is clear – if you see this re­port it to the po­lice.”

There were 44 hunt­ing with dogs of­fences in 2015-16, up 24 on the pre­vi­ous year.

Green MSP Alison John­stone said: “It’s shock­ing that th­ese bru­tal and cruel wildlife crimes con­tinue in a mod­ern Scot­land.”

The Fife raid also found a quan­tity of illegal ve­teri­nary medicine.

Po­lice Scot­land wildlife crime of­fi­cer Lind­say Kerr said: “We work closely with the Scot­tish SPCA and if any crim­i­nal­ity is un­cov­ered it is in­ves­ti­gated thor­oughly.”

A wild badger at night, and left, a man clutches rab­bits killed by his dog in a pho­to­graph posted on so­cial me­dia

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.