A BADGER has been rescued from an illegal snare suffering horrific injuries.
The male badger, who has been nicknamed Moon, was discovered in a snare which had been left in a hedge just outside Maer village on the A51.
It is thought the animal could have been trapped in agonising pain for up to two days before being picked up by the Staffordshire Badger Conservation Group.
Members were alerted by a dog walker who spotted Moon while walking near a known badger trail on Monday afternoon.
The animal was taken to Croft Veterinary Clinic in Hempstalls Lane, Newcastle, where he is said to be in a critical condition.
Joyce Bailey, who is a conservation group member and a veterinary nurse at the surgery, was called to rescue Moon.
She said: “He was wrapped in a snare which was around part of a hedge. He had made a furrow all the way round in an attempt to get out.
“The snare, which is like cheese wire, had gone through the flesh on his chest wall. As he had struggled, it had got tighter and tighter.
“I have never seen a badger in a state like this. I am shocked he survived.”
Conservation group field officer Peter Bagnall said laying the snare had been a “barbaric act of cruelty”.
He said: “The culprit seems to have used an illegal snare which gets tighter as an animal tries to escape.
“We think this because our own officer had problems releasing the badger from it. Snares are also supposed to be checked every 24 hours by law but we are sure this badger was lying there longer than that.
“We want to track down the person that has done this to prevent them from doing it again.”
Mr Bagnall said it was unclear whether the snare had been lain to catch another animal or had been specifically targeted at badgers.
He said: “Snaring is not illegal for some animals like foxes, but it is if it is put on a known path of a badger because they are protected animals.
“I cannot say why someone would want to catch a badger, but the snare was put on a known badger track.
“The tracks have distinctive marks. They are like footpaths going across a field. The person who laid the snare could not have missed the track.”
The Staffordshire Badger Conservation Group, which has more than 100 members, is based at Staffordshire Wildlife Centre in Wolseley Bridge, Stafford.
Mr Bagnall joined after spending a number of years observing badgers.
He said: “I have grown attached to them. I think they are wonderful creatures.
“The badger group is very grateful to the person who found him and to the Croft veterinary clinic, which does not usually treat badgers but has made an exception in this case.”
Faye Burton is founder of Stafford-based Rural Policing Liaison Group, which works with police to reduce crimes related to wildlife.
She said she had come across numerous badgers caught in snares throughout the course of her work.
She said: “Some people don’t like badgers. Gamekeepers don’t like them going through their pheasant pens.
“We’ve even seen cases where people have caught badgers to have their heads stuffed.”
Ms Burton also said there had been an increase in badger baiting and digging over recent months.
She said: “Unfortunately it is raising its ugly head once again. People are coming from outside the area and targeting badgers as part of a cruel sport.”
A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: “We are aware of the incident and are investigating.”
Anyone with information should call Staffordshire Police on 0300 123 4455 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Moon sadly died a few days later as a result of its injuries.
We would like to thank the Croft Veterinary Clinic and Staffordshire Badger Conservation Group for permission to use the photos.