A family of badgers targeted by badger baiters, who set dogs on the animals, has produced young cubs despite the traumatic incident.
The large mammals were saved from further attacks by dogs by Police Scotland who raided the site near Carluke Park and Ride in South Lanarkshire.
Scottish SPCA special investigations unit inspectors, who are experts in animal fighting, were called to the scene.
Today Robert King was found guilty at Lanark Sheriff Court of two counts under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 and of causing an animal fight to take place, whereby one of the dogs was so severely injured it required to be euthanised, under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006.
King’s two Jack Russell terriers were found to be underground in the tunnels of the badger sett. This tactic is known to be used by baiters to try and drive the badgers out so they can set larger dogs on them.
Spades and other specialist baiting equipment was found at the scene. There had been a significant amount of digging which is another tactic used in an attempt to unearth the badgers and provoke a fight.
Police Scotland found a black lurcher type dog in King’s car. There were scars around its muzzle consistent with animal fighting injuries. The Scottish SPCA took the dog in to their care for its welfare.
King’s terriers emerged from underground with severe injuries. They were both wearing tracking collars and one had a metal face guards. This was identified as a chin guard as a common injury of badger baiting is to a dog’s lower jaw.
The skin of one of the terriers’ jaws was significantly detached from its face. Scottish SPCA inspectors immediately took the dogs for emergency veterinary treatment.
Sadly, the vet made the decision to euthanise the animal to ease its suffering. The other dog was taken to a Scottish SPCA animal rescue and rehoming centre for rehabilitation.
The animal welfare charity’s inspectors set up wildlife cameras at the entrance of the sett to monitor for animal activity. The cameras captured two badger cubs emerging from the sett.
A Scottish SPCA SIU undercover inspector said: “It was wonderful to see the badgers had protected their cubs from what could have been a devastating incident.
“Badgers are peaceful creatures and will only fight if cornered. If they have young, they will protect them to the death.
“Badger mums are vicious when they have young. Sending a dog down in to a sett with a nursing female is incredibly dangerous, not only for the badger but for the dog, as we’ve seen in this case.
“This case further highlights the significance of utilising our expertise to work in collaboration with Police Scotland to bring an organised animal fighters to justice.
“We are pleased that awareness of badger baiting and animal fighting among members of the public is increasing. These are abhorrent crimes and we are pleased King has been found guilty.
“It’s not often that stories like this have a positive outcome but the badger cubs and their thriving family is a very happy ending.”
The Scottish SPCA special investigations unit is dedicated to combatting animal fighting.
If anyone has any information pertaining to individuals who are involved in this activity, they are urged to contact the confidential animal helpline on 03000 999 999.