WHEN a badger cub became snared in public woodland near Ightham, a long and gruesome death seemed the inevitable result.

The 6kg animal, thought to be less than a year old, suffered cuts to his neck as it thrashed and struggled to get free of the wire noose.

It only survived because it was found quickly by a dog walker.

Without the passer-by’s rapid intervention last month, the cub would have died slowly from hunger, dehydration or its infected wounds, say the medics who have been treating it.

They believe it will soon be ready to return to the wild, but they need to be certain that its home near Coach Road, Ivy Hatch, is clear of other traps.

Annette Bisley from the Folly Wildlife Rescue Centre, Broadwater Forest, Tunbridge Wells, said: “Badgers are territorial so we have to put this one back where he came from. But we know that other snares have been left in these woods.

“We don’t want to release him until we’re sure the area is clear. He was lucky this time – he might not be next time.”

The trapper who laid the snare is now being hunted because the way it was placed – close to the ground and near a badger sett – is illegal.

Campaigners say that, although badgers are protected by law, they are still persecuted because they are seen as a cause of bovine tuberculosis in cattle or a threat to game birds.

Kate Fowler, from Tonbridge-based Animal Aid, said the plight of the animal – nicknamed Ben – highlights the need to safeguard the National Wildlife Crime Unit – a 10-strong intelligence and enforcement police team.

She said: “As the National Wildlife Crime Unit faces closure over a funding crisis, we should remember the deliberate suffering inflicted on wild animals and insist that their protection remains a priority.

“Folly Wildlife Rescue sees and treats just some of the victims.

“Thankfully, with the care he received, he pulled through, but snares remain set, and countless animals will suffer. Police resources must remain available to prosecute those who break the law.”