Masked gangs are hunting badgers in the city and are filming the animals' deaths to post on social media.

It comes after a report by the Wildlife and Countryside Link (WCL) found an increasing number of teenage thugs were attacking the wild animals to gain online clout.

The report said crimes against wildlife had stayed at record levels since 2021 when 1,414 incidents were reported.

Norwich Evening News:

Videos capture youths injuring the protected species before setting dogs on them.

Some incidents are live streamed allowing viewers to bet on the outcome, while others are done to incite fear.

Kevin Murphy, 52, of Norfolk Wildlife Rescue, recently went undercover on a badger baiting operation.

He witnessed a group of three people bragging that they wanted to "kill every badger they came across". 

Mr Murphy added: "Social media is the latest thing which allows these sick individuals to boost their ego.

Norwich Evening News:

"They're masked up but they do it because they think it makes them look hard.

"It's a sick fascination, they're sick people with nothing better to do."

He said witnessing the individuals torture the badger was "the most harrowing thing he had ever seen". 

Reports are now flooding in about instances in Norwich, he added: "We get baiters coming to badger talks to find out where the sets are.

Norwich Evening News:

"Social media needs to do more to crack down and people need to be more aware, if they see suspicious activity near a set, they should call the cops."

Helen Maxwell, vice chairwoman of Norfolk Badger Trust, added she had found evidence of such killings happening in Norwich.

She said she could not confirm if the incident had been recorded as the perpetrators had already scarpered.

She said: "The law has not kept up with technology, it's very concerning.

"We've got a very good wildlife policing team but people need to be punished not just fined, because there is a lot of money in it, it doesn't bother them."

A Norfolk police spokeswoman was unable to confirm how many incidents of badger baiting had taken place as she said all incidents were simply classified as wildlife crime.