ANIMAL lovers are appealing for help to track down those who use deadly wires to capture badgers for the illegal activity of badger-baiting.

One animal, found snared by the neck at its Lanarkshire sett, was rescued by the SSPCA, which believes the terrified animal would have been used for badger-baiting with dogs.

A vigil by wildlife protectors is being kept over the sett to protect it from further attacks and damage after snares were found placed around the animal’s underground home.

SSPCA Inspector William Little said that the animal was clearly in a distressed state and had to be sedated by a vet before the snare could be removed.

“This was totally barbaric. The poor wild animal would have been used in badger-baiting and you can’t even call that a sport,” he said. “The snares were placed in front of the badger sett just waiting for the animal to poke its head out. The badger must have been stuck with the wire round its neck for hours and was very frightened by its ordeal.

“We removed the snares and released the animal back into the wild. But about two weeks ago, we returned to the same sett and found that they had put the snares back again.

“Badgers have very strong jaws and are very courageous animals. They will keep fighting as long as they can, but they are no match for the pit bulls and terriers used to rip them to shreds.

“It is immensely cruel.”

The snares were positioned in front of a badger sett in Stonehouse, Lanarkshire, the exact location of which is not being revealed to deter other attacks on the creatures.

The SSPCA was alerted to the plight of the creature by a woman out walking her dog. They arrived on the scene and caged the terrified animal before taking it to a local vet and having the snare removed.

Lanarkshire Badger Group spokesman, John Derbyshire, said that the sett was now being closely monitored. He said: “We believe that the snares had been set by baiters, although it is possible that the animal was captured for taxidermy. A stuffed badger is worth in excess of £300. “We will be keeping a close eye on the sett in future and trying to make sure that it is not disturbed.

“I am also appealing for local people to be on the lookout – particularly if they see men with shovels and dogs heading off across fields.

“If they are worried about the safety of local badger setts, they should contact us immediately.”

Badger-baiters face fines of up to £500 and imprisonment for up to six months. Their dogs and all equipment can be confiscated. Chief Inspector Malcolm Mackie of Strathclyde Police in Hamilton. said: “We have a nominated wildlife officer who will be liaising with local groups to try and catch the perpetrators. We are treating this very seriously.”

Police are investigating the discovery yesterday of the decomposed badger.