Badger baiting 'being bragged about online'
Groups of men involved in badger baiting across Northern Ireland are using social media to boast about the number of animals killed in the sickening activity, the USPCA has said.
The organisation recently posted a £500 reward after a small terrier-type dog, which it believes was involved in badger baiting, was tied to a brick and drowned in Newry Canal near Domolly.
A graphic image of the animal's remains, still attached to the brick, was posted to the USPCA's Facebook page after its officer recovered the body on Monday evening.
USPCA spokesperson David Wilson told the Belfast Telegraph that dozens of people across the province are involved in the cruel sport and brag of their actions online.
He added that the dogs used to bait badgers are treated as "disposable" and endure horrific deaths at their owners' hands after they are maimed in the hunt.
"There are groups of boys who are very proud of the number of badgers they have 'taken care of' during the season," Mr Wilson revealed.
"There are no winners in this - the dogs lose and the badgers lose.
"The dogs are very exposed. They go face-first into the set and many suffer irreparable facial injuries, like bits of jaw missing. The dogs don't receive veterinary care, as a vet would have a good idea that they were involved in badger baiting, so they dispose of the animals."
Mr Wilson added that the police actively pursue those involved in such activity and appealed to the public for help.
"These men go out with long-handled spades and dogs and travel the country in vans. They are not invisible," he continued.
"It is illegal not only to attack a badger but to go near their sets, as their habitat is protected. If the public see people acting suspiciously near a badger set, phone the police."
Mr Wilson said that the USPCA has had to deal with similar cases to the Newry one in recent months.
"The officer who recovered the dog in Newry recovered three from the River Bann in December," he revealed.
"And those are just the animals that have been found."
Anyone with information on the Newry incident can contact the USPCA on, tel: 028 3025 1000.