WILDLIFE police in St Albans have urged the public to come forward with information after two badgers were found brutally killed in London Colney.

One, discovered yesterday (Thursday), was shot or stabbed through the head and left near the University College London sports ground in Bell Lane, the training ground for Watford Football Club.

Police believe the offenders tried to disguise the killing as a road injury.

The second badger, a young female, was found last Thursday by a groundsman at the training ground and had been caught in a snare, severing its windpipe and causing an agonising four-day death.

Police fear the incidents are related to a badger baiting ring which may be involved in other animal crime, including dog and cock fighting.

Wildlife officer Sergeant Jamie Bartlett said: ‘We are taking these incidents very seriously.

‘There is an on-going problem with badger baiting and we need to know who is responsible for laying the snare – because they could face fines in the hundreds of pounds and up to six months imprisonment.

‘There are a lot of undesirables using snares in the London Colney area, but whether it’s to catch badgers or other animals we are not sure.’

The female badger had been caught in a badly maintained, but legal free-running snare.

She had managed to break it free from its fixing and move a short distance, but the wire had continued to tighten, causing a lingering death.

Snaring badgers is illegal as they are a protected species, but the laying of free-running snares is not, provided they are checked every 24 hours.

Police are liaising with the RSPCA and the Herts and Middlesex Badger Group, a charity working to enhance protection for badgers in the area.

It is part of a national federation campaigning to have all snares outlawed, and a spokesman said this incident emphasised the cruelty of snaring, and so-called ‘country sports’.

He said: ‘Badger baiting is where they take the badgers away to fight against dogs, where they have lots of money bet on the result.

‘The badgers are injured beforehand, either by breaking their jaw or one of their legs, to give the dogs a better chance.

‘We thought this type of thing had cleared up, but it’s all started again.

‘Whoever laid this snare is meant to check them daily, but this didn’t happen, and the badger would have died an agonising death over four days.’

Anyone who has any information is asked to call 01727 796058.