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The horror of badger baiting is still a big problem in Lincolnshire – and police and volunteers are joining forces to combat the crime

Many people will think that badger baiting is something that happened in the past but people are needed to help police to uncover the true scale of this sickening crime in Lincolnshire.

The Lincolnshire Badger Group is working with police to shed more light on this problem - but is looking for volunteers to help local populations of this well-loved creature by cataloguing setts and the many dead bodies found on the sides of our roads.

Due to a lack of reporting, Lincolnshire Police says it has limited data, but during a five-year period incidents of badger baiting/fighting or digging ranged from 21 to 88 and cases of sett interference – which is also a crime – rare said to have remained high.

Badger are a protected species PHOTO: istock/Ian35mm
Badger are a protected species PHOTO: istock/Ian35mm

Badgers have been a protected species for many years due to sustained cruelty and persecution and were declared a wildlife crime priority in 2009.

Wildlife Crime Officer DC Aaron Flint feels that scale of the problem is larger than the current figures suggest.

DC Aaron Flint, Wildlife Rural Crime Officer for Lincolnshire Police
DC Aaron Flint, Wildlife Rural Crime Officer for Lincolnshire Police

He said: “It’s definitely a bigger problem than we think it is. We don’t even know how bad it properly is because of the lack of reporting. The difficulty is knowing how bad the situation is.

“The people that badger bait and people that hare course tend to be the same type of person that will enjoy inflicting cruelty and watching suffering.

“It is a really important offence. People that badger bait like to inflict cruelty on creatures and people.

““99% of the UK population don’t think badger baiting happens or just think of it as a historical thing that used to happen.

"To listen to them whooping and enjoying themselves as a badger cries out in pain is sickening.”

A young badger cub PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A young badger cub PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Badger baiting, along with dog fighting, cock fighting and bear baiting, has been illegal since 1835 but still groups of people – mainly men – will gather to watch and enjoy these horrific scenes.

Once a sett has been identified, vile criminals will send terrier type dogs – wearing radio collars – into the tunnels in order to locate the badger before they dig down and grab the unsuspecting creature.

Then they can be bagged and taken elsewhere to fight against large bull type lurchers – for the entertainment of these disgusting people – who can also injure the badgers jaws or paws.

A badger being cared for at a wildlife hospital PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A badger being cared for at a wildlife hospital PHOTO: SUPPLIED

DC Flint said: “Badgers don’t like to fight but they are tough creatures. Badgers can handle themselves. If they get the upper hand they get a whack with a spade to injure it.

“It is not just cruel to the badger but also the dogs. The vets know a badger injury and will report it so they tend to deal with it themselves and that often leads to serious infections and suffering.

“It’s done for fun and they see it as a sport but it’s cruel.”

Statistics showing crime levels
Statistics showing crime levels

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Lincolnshire Badger Group was founded a few years ago but was re-launched in 2023 by chairman Ally Foyster after a break.

Ally said: I thought we need to get the group back up and running and help the rural crime officer. We got together and decided that Lincolnshire definitely needs it (the group).

“What we are trying to do is establish a network of people so we can go out and check setts and road kills to make sure they are genuine roadside kills and setts are active. We need evidence that they are active and can only do that by checking regularly.

“We have to do this as these people are unscrupulous. They do things to them and then put them on the side of the road as trophies. We like to get out and check they are true road kills.”

Badgers have been subject to persecution for hundreds of years PHOTO: istock/MikeLane45
Badgers have been subject to persecution for hundreds of years PHOTO: istock/MikeLane45

Bodies found at the side of our roads could be down to being hit by a car but some deaths could be down to the badger baiters.

The group is appealing for people to volunteer to help keep records across Lincolnshire.

Ally said: “We are looking for more people to join the group. We would like to have pockets of people all over Lincolnshire. If something like a road kill is reported then I can message someone to check and make sure it is a true road kill. We will teach people what to look for and safety just in case the badger is not dead.”

After caring for badgers at a wildlife hospital, Ally has a strong regard for badgers.

She said: “Badgers were the animals which stuck out as being quite intelligent. They were problem solvers if they couldn’t do something, they worked it out.

“When they were unwell, they would let you treat them but when they get better they nip you and say that is enough.”

If you are interested in supporting the group email lincolnshirebadgergroup@hotmail.com

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