A WILDLIFE group wants the public to help protect ‘persecuted’ badgers by reporting any suspicious activity.

Lancashire Badger Group is writing to residents living in areas where badgers have been targeted and, as part of the Hotspot Letter campaign, wants wildlife lovers to keep watch as the baiting season gets under way this month.

The group wants to protect areas where repeat incidents are occurring and although they did not want to reveal exact locations of setts, they said incidents take place across East Lancashire, with the majority in Burnley.

Badger baiting involves digging a badger out of its sett and then fighting it against dogs. As well as disturbing the animal, the badger is usually disabled to ensure the dog wins.

Figures for 2013 from the Lancashire Badger Group show they dealt with 21 incidents of badger persecution of which eight were badgers being dug out of their setts.

Ian Scott, sett protection officer with Lancashire Badger Group, said volunteers will also be delivering letters to areas where badgers have been baited or dazzled with bright lights, known as ‘lamping’.

He said: “It is hoped by expanding our surveillance and monitoring of badgers we can reduce badger baiting and other associated crime to a minimum.

“Utilising members of the public to look out and report suspicious activity will increase our chances of preventing wildlife crime.

“People think it is an obsolete Victorian concept, but unfortunately the activity is alive and well. We see many incidents in East Lancashire and they tend to happen mostly in Burnley.

“It is an ongoing and annual problem but we aim to tackle it and ask for as much public help as possible.”

Badgers tend to spend longer underground throughout the winter and early spring period so the baiting season tends to start in December and continue until the warmer weather.

The presence of cubs will also ensure the adult badger will put up a greater fight to protect their young.

Anyone aware of criminal activity regarding wildlife is urged to contact police on 101. Also, contact the Lancashire Badger Group in confidence on 0844 8707908.