A COUPLE out on a walk in the countryside say they were left "sickened" by an encounter with three badger-baiters.

The three men, described as being in their twenties, had set their dogs on a badger after destroying its sett with shovels.

The couple said they disturbed the trio, though, who then ran off into the woods.

The husband, who has asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals from the men involved, said: "We couldn't imagine things like that going on these days. It just seemed like a scene from the past."

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He said he and his wife had been enjoying a walk south of Chepstow Park Wood when the "upsetting" incident occurred.

South Wales Argus:

(Picture: Steve Clark)

The three men were standing in a field watching as two of their dogs lunged at the badger, he added.

"We screamed at them and they ran off. My wife went back [home] and called the police, and I stayed to see if the badger was ok," he said.

"It was badly injured but it crawled back into its sett.

"It's really sickening. The danger is that it will be a repeat experience."

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Steve Clark, a member of the Gwent Badger Group, said it was important the couple had come forward and told both the group and the police about the attack which highlights "first-hand the barbarity of badger baiting".

"Alerting the public to the fact this evil practice still happens will help combat and possibly assist in catching perpetrators," Mr Clark said.

"This criminal activity must be a priority for police in rural areas. Badger baiting isn’t a thing of the past – it’s happening now, in our county and across the nation.”

South Wales Argus:

Gwent Badger Group member Steve Clark visiting the scene of the badger-baiting south of Chepstow Park Wood (Picture: Steve Clark)

Badgers are protected under UK law, and people who commit offences such as badger-baiting can be punished with an unlimited fine or a prison sentence of up to six months.

After visiting the scene of the attack, Mr Clark said he feared the badger in this case had died.

The Gwent Badger Group, which has protected badgers since 1974 by regularly monitoring setts and rescuing injured badgers, offers a £1,000 reward for information leading to the identification and conviction of badger-baiters.