A BADGER almost decapitated itself in a desperate bid to escape after being caught illegally in a wire snare. Animal welfare officers say it may have suffered an agonising death stretching over several days.

RSPCA inspector Mark Gent last night pleaded with farmers, gamekeepers and landowners not to use snares to catch animals.

He found the adult badger on a public footpath off Skelton Lane, near Marske, in Swaledale, North Yorkshire, after being alerted by a walker.

Inspector Gent said: “The badger had chewed through the wire and managed to get itself free, but in the process it had nearly decapitated itself. It probably died after days of agonising pain.

“It could have been snared anywhere in that area and then walked to where I found it.

“Badgers are a protected species and a crime has been committed because one has been snared.

“It’s not illegal to set snares for certain types of animals.

“But you have to target those animals and the snare should be checked every day – this clearly wasn’t.

“If it’s not done properly, it can lead to a slow painful death.

Trevor Lawson, from the Badger Trust, said: “Badgers are protected by law and snaring them is strictly against the law, but unfortunately it still goes on and the results, like in this case, are absolutely horrific.”