A GANG of badger baiters fled and left their dogs behind them when they were chased from farmland in Muckalee in North Kilkenny.
At least two men with dogs were spotted trying to dig out badgers in the field. The intruders were interrupted by locals who gave chase but the badger-baiters escaped through the fields.
The baiters left behind two badly torn terrier-type dogs and a shovel. The terriers had been mauled by a badger in a brutal battle for survival. Fitted to the neck of one of the dogs was a radio transmitter that would be used to monitor the position of the animal after it was forced underground to flush out a badger.
One of the battle-scared terriers found struggling already had a poorly healed facial wound from a previous encounter.
Noel O' Donoghue of the Kilkenny branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals told a local newspaper that the practice would be to put the dogs down into the hole to try to rout the badger. He said foxhunters used the same tactics.
He explained that badger baiting is a cruel practice where a dog and a badger are thrown together in a head-to-head fight to the death.
"Merciless people would then put bets on who would win," said Mr O’Donoghue. "More often than not the badger would win the brutal battle. It is pure savagery. The badger is protected species, it is a lovely animal and it is illegal to harm it."
The dogs found at the scene in Muckalee are now being cared for by local vets. "The practice of badger-baiting is particularly disgusting and everything must be done to put a halt to it," said Mr O’Donoghue, adding that any information leading to the baiters would be passed to the Kilkenny Gardai.