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BBC Wales Today's Laura Jones
"The blood sport involves setting dogs to fight badgers in an organised contest"
 real 28k

BBC Wales's Gilbert John
"Badgers are often sent into fights with jaws deliberately broken to give the dogs a better chance"
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Monday, 3 April, 2000, 19:47 GMT 20:47 UK
Uncovering the badger-baiters
Hurt badger
Rescuers examine a badger injured by baiters
The internet is being used to attract spectators to watch badger-baiting in the countryside, a BBC Wales investigative programme has revealed.

The animals were caught in Carmarthenshire, Cardiganshire and Pembrokeshire in west Wales and then sold in London and further afield.

An internet website advertising badger-baiting holidays has also been uncovered.

Badger-baiting is a bloodthirsty sport which was outlawed in the 19th century.

But gangs of baiters still travel every weekend from the south Wales Valleys and beyond to take part in illegal organised sessions in west Wales.

The disturbing practice has been exposed by Taro Naw, BBC Wales's Welsh-language current affairs programme.

'Perverted pleasure'

The programme followed two men who were so sickened by the cruelty of baiting that they have become amateur detectives.

They tailed suspect vehicles down the M4 and into the countryside to get evidence that baiting was taking place.

Badger watchers Mike Sharratt, a blacksmith from west Wales, and Phil Gilbert from the Valleys, who works in security, said they were putting their own lives at risk.

Badger-baiters are often involved in other criminal activities and many have convictions for violence.

But the pair are determined to badger the baiters - even though they have been threatened many times.

"Around 10,000 badgers a year are baited in Britain purely for someone's perverted pleasure," said Mr Sharratt.

"So, yes, we'll carry on."

Following an operation mounted by the two activists and Dyfed-Powys Police wildlife officer Shaun Richards, the programe obtained footage of a police raid on a suspected baiting session in a Cardiganshire woodland.

Badger-baiting 'holidays'

The programme shows armed police discovering a recently-devastated badger sett and a badger thrown into the undergrowth, still bleeding from its wounds.

Mr Sharratt and Mr Gilbert also have evidence that badgers are dug from their setts in west Wales and then transported to illegal baiting sessions in the Valleys, in London and further afield.

Adding to the evidence, Taro Naw recently discovered a website on the internet advertising illegal badger-baiting "holidays" in Ireland and west Wales, with the slogan, "We breed 'em, you bait 'em".

According to Mr Sharratt, this confirms that badger-baiters are organised and operate through an illegal network.

They are also highly professional and difficult to catch.

But he and his co-detective Phil Gilbert are just as determined.

They say they will not give up until they have beaten the baiters once and for all.

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03 Nov 99 | UK
Badgers gassed
23 Feb 00 | Scotland
Wildlife offenders could be caged
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