At around mid-day, two members of the Dorset Badger Group were walking along the footpath near Throop farm, Southover and discovered a badger lying on top of a mound of mud in the corner of a field right next to the footpath. It was curled up and appeared lethargic. Its breathing was shallow and it was shivering.
They immediately called me out and when we approached the badger it stood up and tried to escape and at this stage we realised that it was caught around the middle by a wire snare. The wire was attached to something hidden in the middle of the pile of mud. The badger must have been there for at least twelve hours and had churned up a huge pile of mud, trying to escape.
We managed to get it into a cage and cut the wire that was holding it. After it had been freed, there was still a tight band of wire around the badger. We managed to get the badger to a vet who cut the wire and examined it for injuries. There was a red ring visible around the badger where the wire had been, but it had not cut into the skin.
I took the badger to another member of the group for observation and assessment for a couple of days. We also needed time to search the area for any more snares and to speak to the landowner before we released it back. The snare had been situated opposite the Dorset Wildlife reserve ‘Nunnery Mead’.
The next day RSPCA Inspector Ken Snook accompanied me and we searched for more snares but could find none in the immediate area. We also spoke to a member of the family that owns the land and she vehemently denied all knowledge of it although it had been set up near to her chicken house. The field immediately to the south of the one where the snare was found had been sold recently to a local shoot.
Also we looked in the area where the snare was situated for any obvious badger ‘runs’. The trapped badger had churned the earth up so much that it was impossible to tell.
I asked Ken Snook to examine the remnants of the snare and he said that he thought it was a standard free-running fox snare with a ‘stay’.
The badger seemed exhausted and did not eat until the second day. On 11 November at around 6.30 pm we released it back near the snare site. It sat quietly in the cage for a few seconds and then galloped at great speed towards a nearby wood where we knew there was a sett.