Arrests in badger baiting inquiry

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POLICE have admitted that badger baiting remains ingrained in the culture of criminals operating in Yorkshire’s countryside communities after carrying out a series of raids.

Officers from both the West and North Yorkshire forces were involved in the joint operation with RSPCA investigators as part of an ongoing inquiry which began last year after a dog was found with severe facial inquiries.

It is thought the dog had been used in badger baiting, and three men were questioned after raids on addresses in Eggborough and Knottingley yesterday morning. Eight dogs were also seized, along with shovels, cages, nets, phones and computers.

Two men were arrested during the raids while the third went to a police station yesterday afternoon. All three have been questioned by RSPCA inspectors and bailed while inquiries continue.

North Yorkshire Police’s wildlife crime officer for the Selby district, PC Sarah Ward, admitted badger-baiting is part of the way of life for members of the criminal fraternity.

She said: “We do need to break the cycle, otherwise it will simply continue from one generation to the next. We will not tolerate badger baiting in North Yorkshire and anyone involved in such a practice can expect a visit from the police. We will continue working with our colleagues from other forces in other areas and the RSPCA to ensure that people causing such unnecessary cruelty to animals is brought to justice.”

A crackdown on countryside crime in North Yorkshire has seen a dramatic reduction in offences such as poaching. PC Ward said officers were dealing with cases of poaching on a nightly basis two years ago in the Selby district, but that had fallen to just one instance a week.

She admitted, however, the problem had not been eradicated as criminals are now targeting rural areas outside of North Yorkshire. Close links have been forged with wildlife crime officers from neighbouring forces to share intelligence.