PUBLISHED: 16:19 17 June 2008 | UPDATED: 15:15 20 February 2013
The badger is one of Britain's best loved wild animals and is fully protected by the law. Seldom seen, badgers live in many places in the countryside.(estimated population within Warwickshire of several thousand).
Badgers are threatened by illegal snaring, poisoning and particularly the ctivities of badger baiters who dig them from their setts before taking them to fight with dogs.
Badgers live in social groups in underground setts where they sleep during the day, only emerging in the evening. They are shy creatures, who avoid contact with people.
Badgers and their setts are fully protected by the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. Anyone who takes, kills or injures a badger, or who interferes with a badger sett, can be sent to prison for six months or fined up to £5000.
Badger baiting is also an offence against the Protection of Animals Act 1911. For centuries badgers have been victims of persecution by man, and in the old days, badger baiting was a popular spectator sport. It was made illegal in 1835, but never completely died out and has become more common in the last 20 years or so. Badger diggers use dogs and digging equipment to take badgers from their setts. The captured badgers are then attacked by dogs for "sport" whilst the spectators gamble on the performance of the dogs. Large sums of money are often involved and it is usually the case that those involved in badger baiting are also involved in other serious crime, so the money used is often the proceeds of crime. Badger baiting is extremely cruel and the badgers suffer severe injuries before they are killed. The dogs are often badly injured as well. It is estimated that 10,000 badgers are killed in this way every year.
Badgers are also victims of other forms of illegal persecution. In Warwickshire, officers have dealt with cases of badgers being shot and poisoned, as well as many instances of disturbance, damage and destruction to setts.
Badger groups play a vital role in protecting badgers. They are made up of volunteers who work with the police and the RSPCA to enforce the laws protecting badgers. In some areas they have even built artificial setts that are "digger proof".