POLICE have appealed to the public to help protect badgers after a number of setts have been found disturbed.
The body of a badger with a bullet wound in its neck has also been found in Marl Pits, Rawtenstall.
Officers say a number of badger setts have been found disturbed in Rawtenstall over the past two months.
They believe badger baiting – when badgers are forced to fight dogs – may be taking place and have vowed to tackle the problem.
PCSO John Pepper said: “This problem has been highlighted to me a number of times recently.
“It is a problem which has upset local residents due to the possibility of cruelty being carried out on the badgers.”
PC Ian Rawcliffe said: “We are taking the necessary pro-active steps in putting a stop to this by working together with the local community and offenders caught committing these offences will be prosecuted.”
Nationally, there has been a rise in illegal badger lamping during the past two years, police said.
This involves a powerful light being shone at the badger before a dog, usually a lurcher, is sent to catch and then attack it.
Andy Hardman, from Lancashire Badger Group, said: “We are pleased the police are taking this matter seriously.
“Badgers are a protected species and we need to ensure we put a stop to this illegal act.
“Offenders can face a sentence of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to £5,000, as well as community service or a ban from owning dogs.”
If you have any information which could help, contact police on 0845 1253545 or Lancashire Badger Group on 07980 630250 or visit www.lancashire badgergroup.org.uk.
Source: Lancashire Evening Telegraph