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Thursday, March 26, 1998 Published at 07:53 GMT


Badgers glow hi-tech to beat the baiters
image: [ Police find it difficult to produce evidence of badger-baiting ]
Police find it difficult to produce evidence of badger-baiting

A new method of trapping badger-baiters is being tested by police in the West Midlands.

The technique involves marking the badgers with "smart water" that glows under ultra-violet light.

The invisible liquid does not hurt the animals but its unique chemical identity will rub off on the skin and clothes of anyone attacking their sets.

At a badger centre in Derbyshire, one animal ready to be released back to the wild after recovering from injuries suffered in a road accident is to have its coat marked as part of the police trial to catch the baiters.

Those caring for badgers are delighted by the development. Irene Brearton of the National Federation of Badger Groups said: "I think this is a terrific breakthrough - a real extra tool for badger protection."

'Extra protection'

She added: "It was a good opportunity to mark the badger in this way and it will give her a high degree of extra protection as she goes back into the wild."

In nearby woods, police discover new evidence of badger-baiters at work. A huge hole at the entrance to a set marks the spot where digging has taken place.

Criminals use dogs to chase the animals. Then they pit their hounds against the badgers for sport. It is illegal - but difficult to catch the culprits.

'Convincing evidence'

Inspector Steve Anderson, of the West Midlands Police wildlife division, is in charge of the trial. He said: "Invariably, offenders have left the scene by the time police arrive.

"Even when we identify suspects it is difficult to find conclusive evidence that will link them in with offences at badger sets.

"The advantage of 'smart water' is, with that being recovered on clothing or dogs of people who have been involved with badger digging, we should be able to identify them much more readily and produce more convincing evidence for the courts."

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