Urgent and wide-reaching action needed on badger baiting and other cruel animal hunting practices, says Blair

Speaking yesterday (7 March) at the launch event for a USPCA report into ‘badger baiting’ in Northern Ireland, Alliance Agriculture Spokesperson and co-sponsor of the event John Blair MLA has said urgent, wide-reaching action is needed to tackle this practice and see perpetrators face the full extent of the law.

John Blair animal welfare

According to latest operational statistics for 2019-21, there are only 32 suggested badger baiting offences on record, which is suspected to vastly understate the genuine scale of the practice in Northern Ireland.

It’s reported that, according to statistics from the Department of Justice, there have only been 11 prosecutions relating to killing or injuring wild animals in Northern Ireland since 2011.

“Badger baiting, as well as the general hunting of wild animals with dogs, are barbarically cruel and inhumane practices, and we must see much more done to combat their remaining presence in NI,” said John.

“I’d like to extend my thanks to the USPCA for once again using their resources, expertise, and platform to highlight the scourge of cruelty against defenceless animals, with the creation of this hard-hitting but necessary report. Their dedication to the cause is tireless and inspiring.

“I give my full and unequivocal support to the recommendations set out in this report. With the extremely low rate of convictions we’re seeing in this area, I’d echo their call for increased PSNI investigative capacity, but argue we’d also benefit from a multi-agency task force with representatives from DAERA to assist in seeking convictions.

“It’s incredibly frustrating, however, that no actual action can be taken from these recommendations whilst the institutions remain in a state of collapse, and this is yet another example of the impact felt from the DUP’s continuing boycott.

“We need ministerial direction and proper scrutiny, but until Stormont is restored I want to give my assurances that the cross-party Assembly All Party Group on Animal Welfare will discuss what actions to take from this report as soon as it is able.

“Alliance’s record, and my own personal record, makes our stance on this very clear, and we remain entirely committed to championing animal welfare and seeing appropriate action taken on both badger baiting as well as other cruel, inhumane hunting practices.”