PSNI should form special task force to tackle animal baiting, say Alliance representatives

John Blair PSNI Patrick Brown animal welfare

The PSNI should form a special task force to help tackle animal baiting in Northern Ireland, Alliance Animal Welfare spokesperson Patrick Brown MLA has said.

Mr Brown was speaking following a BBC Spotlight programme which revealed the gruesome extent of the practice here. The USPCA believes there could be up to 14,000 cases of badger baiting in Northern Ireland each year, with 150 people actively taking part in it, as well as the wide sharing of images and videos online.

The organisation has called for a special PSNI task force to proactively investigate the issue, a call echoed by the South Down MLA and his party colleague John Blair MLA.

“This programme revealed the horrific nature of animal baiting, whereby hunting dogs are set on wild animals like foxes or badgers,” said Mr Brown.

“The cruelty is unimaginable and while the USPCA does incredible work in tackling it, it is vital the organisation is given help in doing so. Alliance backs the calls for a special PSNI task force to investigate the network of animal baiters and alongside my colleague John Blair MLA, we will continue working closely with the USPCA and other animal welfare organisations to push for this.”

Mr Blair had his private member’s Bill to ban all hunting with dogs defeated by Sinn Féin and most of the DUP’s MLAs in 2021. He said it would have brought Northern Ireland in line with the rest of the UK on the matter.

“Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK without a ban on hunting with dogs. That is despite widespread public support for a ban,” said the South Antrim MLA.

“Hunting with dogs is a cruel and unnecessary past time which causes immeasurable suffering to the hunted animals and the hunting dogs, which can also sustain terrible injuries. While I intend on bringing my Bill back to the Assembly when it is restored, unfortunately that can’t happen while the current DUP deadlock continues.

“In the meantime, I will raise this matter at the Policing Board and directly with the Chief Constable. We must do all we can to fight animal baiting and tackle other animal welfare matters.”