Badger caught in snare in Northumberland

Northumberland: Badger suffers excruciating death in snare

Another badger has died unnecessarily after getting caught in an illegal snare in Northumberland.

The RSPCA was called out to the badger after receiving a call from the public. The charity said that the snare had become embedded in the creature’s neck and had to be cut out in three different places. The RSPCA’s Rachael Hurst stated:

“it looked like he’d rolled and twisted several times in an attempt to free himself.”

The badger was found dead in front of his sett, so it seems that someone deliberately and illegally positioned the device to target badgers. Hurst said:

“It was a sad and distressing sight to see him dead in front of the sett – which we think is active. Clearly whoever has set this barbaric device in this location has done so with absolutely no thought whatsoever for the suffering their actions would cause.”

Indeed, a recent report, published by OneKind, described being killed by a snare as “slow strangulation“.

Torturous deaths

This badger is just one of many who have suffered torturous deaths, or who have had significant injuries, after being caught in snares. On 6 November 2022, a badger in Scotland was rescued after he was trapped for days and left struggling to escape from an illegal snare. And on 3 February 2023, a badger had to be put down in Northamptonshire after being caught in a legal snare for at least four days. The gruesome images showed the snare wrapped round the animal’s head and inside his mouth.

We have also reported on several incidents that have recently taken place in Essex. On 25 February 2023, a member of public alerted the police to a badger caught in a snare in Essex. The creature mysteriously disappeared before the North East Essex Badger Group could arrive, leaving only a pool of blood. The group saw a vehicle driving away from the scene. That time, too, the snare was seemingly set to deliberately kill a badger: right on the path that the animals take to get from a nearby sett. And then on 16 March another badger was found dead with a snare deeply embedded in her neck near Colchester. The badger group said that she was “almost garrotted”.


Dead badger with snare wrapped around his neck
A badger in Essex was “almost garrotted”. Photo courtesy of North East Essex Badger Group

Of course, it isn’t just badgers who get caught in snares. We have also reported on how the Arundel Estate, which receives hundreds of thousands of pounds of public subsidies from the government, is littered with the lethal contraptions. Dogs, deer, hare and badgers have all been caught in snares on the estate.

According to MP Rachel Maskell, there are around 188,000 snares in operation at any one time, and around 1.7 million animals have been killed by them. 75% of the animals snared are not the target species, which is foxes. 33% are hares, 26% are badgers, while 14% are other species.

Make all snares illegal in England

Badgers are, in theory, a protected species in the UK (when they’re not being culled). It is, therefore, illegal to trap badgers with a snare (or even set a snare near a badger sett or along runs that badgers use). But, of course, snares don’t discriminate between who they catch.

Currently in England (as across the rest of the UK) only one type of snare can legally be used to kill foxes. Legal snares are known as ‘free-running snares’ which should, in theory, relax if an animal stops struggling, while illegal self-locking snares tighten and won’t loosen at all. The snare that killed the Northumberland badger is thought to have been a self-locking device, which is illegal. However, as we can see from the above examples, legal snares are viciously cruel, too, and need to be permanently banned.

Scotland and Wales are taking significant action to crack down on the use of snares, while England can only muster up a parliamentary debate on their use. One minister ensured that the pro-hunting, pro-shooting Countryside Alliance had its say during the debate. In Wales, the Agriculture Bill, which will ban snares completely, is about to be passed. It is in its final report stage. Scotland, too, is just a few steps behind Wales.

We all need to put pressure on Westminster to take a snare ban seriously. Too many lives are being unnecessarily lost in the most unimaginably cruel way.

Read more about legislation and what to do if you find a snare at our Snares and the Law page.

Featured image via RSPCA