Woman puts badger into cage after rescuing the badger from a snare.

A badger rescue story shows why snares must be outlawed immediately

A young badger was trapped for days and left struggling to escape from an illegal snare in Scotland. Images show a worker from a local animal hospice rescuing the creature. And now the woman that rescued her wants an end to the practice of snaring altogether.

Scottish paper the Daily Record reported on 5 January that the Maggie Fleming Animal Hospice responded to a report of a distressed badger near Skyeburn, Dumfries and Galloway. When Alexis Fleming, who runs the hospice, arrived at the scene, she found a badger that was hanging from a gate by his neck.

According to a Facebook post by Fleming, the report and discovery happened on 6 November 2022. Fleming said that the badger:

“was hanging by [his] neck [from] a wooden gate, half-covered in mud, frantically clawing and chewing at the fence, and it was obvious [he’d] been there for at least a day, possibly more.”

Fleming told the Daily Record that the badger was likely saved by rocks at the bottom of the gate. They were large enough that the badger was able to perch atop one of them to alleviate the pressure on his neck. Nonetheless, the snare left the badger with deep tissue damage that had started to necroticise.

Badger sitting on top of a rock with snare attached around his neck.
The rock intended to force the badger through the snare may be the one thing that saved his life, via Maggie Fleming Animal Hospice.

The hospice owner put a cage behind the badger to prevent him from running off once freed, and then cut through the snare. This was no easy task, though. Fleming said on Facebook that the wire “was so bloody tough” and cutting through it was a “long drawn out” process. But once the snare was cut, Fleming was able to rush the badger to Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue.

A Facebook post by the Maggie Fleming Animal Hospice on 9 January 2023 said that the badger made a full recovery and is “right in the mood” for returning to the wild. Fleming is now looking for suitable release locations away from where he was originally snared. She told Protect the Wild that:

“Hopefully he will have a decent future now. At least one safe out of thousands, but he’s still one bless him.”

This wasn’t the end of the story, though.

Clear intent

Fleming said on Facebook that a few weeks after the rescue, she returned with police to the gate where the badger was trapped. And when they arrived:

“we found a live snare in exactly the same place, set in exactly the same way as the one that caught him; hanging [from] the third rung of the gate, with two big stones placed either side of what is blatantly a badger path, with the noose hanging between them so that anyone walking on the path would have [to] go through it [to] get under the gate, and get fuckin hanged.”

On top of this, two further snares were strung from the barbed wire next to the gate, one of which had badger hair in it. None of the snares were tagged or free-running, both of which are required by law.

Badger hanging from a snare by his neck.
The badger had no way of escaping from the illegal snare, via Maggie Fleming Animal Hospice.

“If his story can change anything…”

Badgers are routinely caught in snares, both intentionally and unintentionally, even though it is illegal to do so. A review of snare use commissioned by the National Anti Snaring Campaign estimated, based on shooting industry figures, that legally-set snares trap approximately 1000 badgers a year. The figure for illegally set snares, such as in the case above, is of course unknown. This is nonetheless one of the clearest motivations for a blanket ban on snare use.

Wales will be the first nation in the UK to do this. Scotland is also considering a similar move, after the Scottish government’s advisory group on animal welfare said snares caused “significant welfare concerns”. Unfortunately, both Westminster and Stormont are yet to show any signs of following in their path.

Curled up badger covered in mud looks at the camera.
The badger after he was rescued, via Magggie Fleming Animal Hospice.

Fleming told Protect the Wild that she’s not optimistic for justice against the culprit that set the snare which trapped the young badger near Skyeburn. Nonetheless, she hopes that his story can help push for a ban on snares everywhere:

“If his story can change anything along the way then we can but try.”

Westminster Hall will host a debate on snares on 9 January. It is the first time such a topic has reached even a Westminster Hall debate stage. And the story of the Skyeburn badger shows why England must catch up with its neighbours on the cruel practice of snaring.

You can find details of how to support the Maggie Fleming Animal Hospice here.

Featured image and additional images via Maggie Fleming Animal Hospice