Police are hunting badger killers who snared an animal and left it to die an agonising death.

The badger, which was being radio tracked for a research project, was found with the snare wire wrapped around it in a stone culvert off Main Road at Youlgreave.

Police were called to investigate because badgers and their setts are fully protected under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.

Irene Brierton, chairman of the Mid-Derbyshire Badger Group, said the animal had struggled frantically to free itself.

“It was found completely bound up in wire inside a stone culvert, where it had been living, off the main street through the village,” she added.

“This is a frustrating situation. Researchers undertaking the radio tracking were gleaning valuable information and now the opportunity is lost.

“It was a cruel and senseless act. Badgers are popular animals and this one was merely getting on with its life, doing no one any harm.

“It will have died a slow, painful and lingering death.”

A police spokesman confirmed that officers were investigating the killing, which was reported on Friday, March 4.

He added: “The badger had a noose around it’s neck and a wildlife liaison officer went to the scene and is looking into the matter.

“We are not sure if the noose was placed in the sett or elsewhere and would urge anyone with information to call us.”

Anyone with information about the incident should call Pc Dave Rowbotham on 0845 133 3333.