Surrey's first case of badger baiting in three-and-a-half years has been reported to police after an alleged incident near Farnham.

A police spokesman said officers were made aware of badger digging out and baiting taking place in the Dockenfield area, but the perpetrators were spooked and had moved on by the time they arrived.

They added officers were working with colleagues in Hampshire to “track down these individuals”.

Badger baiting is a cruel blood sport where badgers are attacked and killed by dogs. The badgers are usually captured using traps or dogs and are then placed in an enclosed area where dogs are set upon them.

The dogs are trained to attack the badgers and bite them, causing them severe injuries, and in most cases, death.

Badger baiting is illegal in the UK under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. This law makes it an offense to kill, injure, or take a badger, or to interfere with a badger sett, without a license from the relevant authorities.

The law also prohibits the use of dogs to hunt, kill or take a badger, or to dig for badgers. Anyone found guilty of badger baiting can face a fine of up to £5,000 or up to six months imprisonment.

Residents are urged to keep an eye out for anyone suspicious taking an interest in badger setts, unexpected lights at night – particularly in fields – or disturbance of setts as if done deliberately or with a shovel.

Call police on 101 or 999 in an emergency or if a crime is in progress.