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Badger Baiting

Volume 451: debated on Tuesday 7 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the timetable is for the introduction of changes to legislation to provide police officers with the power of arrest in respect of individuals involved in unlawful activity associated with badger baiting in Northern Ireland. (99683)

It is an offence under the Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 1972 to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal by causing, procuring or assisting at the fighting or baiting of that animal. A review of the legislation is currently out to public consultation, with a closing date of 5 December 2006. The review examines the need for increased enforcement powers under the Act.

It is also an offence under the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 to take, kill, injure or be in possession or control of a badger or to disturb a badger while it is occupying a place or structure for shelter or protection, or to damage, destroy or obstruct access to that place or structure. None of the offences are subject to arrest and there are currently no proposals to change the legislation in this respect. However, subject to the outcome of a public consultation exercise on the review of the 1985 Order planned for December 2006, further changes may be proposed.