John Blair to host launch of badger report.
On Tuesday 7th March CAI understand John Blair MLA will host the launch of what we are told is the USPCAs Badger Report in the Long Room at Stormont. Which is quite surprising given the fact the Partnership Against Wildlife Crime Northern Ireland badger subgroup normally produce their own report the last being 2016-2018.
The report will likely be an attempt to pull together data on badger baiting incidents across Northern Ireland, to define the geographical and temporal spread, and any hotspots of badger persecution within the jurisdiction.
CAI are clear that deliberate cruelty is completely unacceptable and is entirely supportive of legislation that protects the welfare of wild and domestic animals, whilst maintaining support for effective wildlife management. These two positions are not mutually exclusive.
Any report relating to badgers or other wildlife should be based on official PSNI data that is open to scrutiny, to avoid what was seen in the recent BBC Spotlight programme that allowed USPCA (who are part of the PAW NI badger group) the opportunity to mislead the public with wild unsubstantiated figures of between 3,500 and 14,000 incidents of badger baiting a year, to stir up public emotion.
Despite the official PSNI figures not even remotely supporting the claims cited above, CAI are concerned we may see a repeat of dubious figures being used in this latest report in an attempt to save face. To accept the PSNI figures would be an admission that the public were misled in the Spotlight programme and could impact negatively not only on the work of the badger subgroups but also working relationships with PAW NI itself.
Any questionable claims would also reinforce the growing view that concern around badger welfare is a convenient means to force the return of Mr Blair’s divisive, failed, Bill to ban hunting with dogs and would be an unfair attack on the PSNI, claiming they are not doing enough, pushing for a special task force to be set up.
The PSNI take wildlife crime very seriously and recive thousands of calls each year from the public in 2019 – 6492, 2020 – 5137, 2021 – 5534, 2022 – 5443 these call will range of suspected wildlife crimes from deer poaching, animalwelfare issues, use of drones near wildlife to bat disturbance to name but a few. a full list can be here.
Through a recent Freedom of Information request, we can see that in 2019 there were 49 incidents; in 2020, 20 and in 2021, 51 incidents. A total of 120 incidents involving badgers were logged by the PSNI over a three year period, which is a far cry from what some have claimed. These figures are further broken down into subcategories. The main groups called Injured no suspicion (INS) this does not constitute wildlife crime, Sett Disturbance (SD), Suspected Badger Baiting (SBB) and Traps/Snares (TS).
Looking at the period covered in the FOI request from 2019- 2021 it shows that out of the 120 cases, suspected badger baiting accounted for 30 reports. Looking back to the previous PAW NI badger subgroup report 2016-2018 there were 263 badger related incidents reported with suspected badger baiting accounting for 80 of these. If we look at the most recent report there were 7 cases of suspected badger baiting in 2022.
Therefore, while even one case of wildlife crime is one too many, the evidence would suggest that crimes against badgers is on the decrease since 2015 in Northern Ireland.
CAI would continue to request the public, who suspect they have witnessed a wildlife crime to report the matter to the PSNI on 101 and obtain an incident number. If you are in any doubt, please consult the Partnership Against Wildlife Crime Northern Ireland website that is packed full of useful information.
Below shows all the badger reported incidents listed in the FOI request from 2019 until 2022.
2022 Figures recivied 7/3/2023