Badger foraging in grass. Badgers are regularly targetted and caught by snares.

Snared badger disappears leaving only pool of blood

Essex Police are investigating after blood was found by a snare. A member of the public reported finding a badger trapped in the device. But by the time police arrived, the creature had gone.

As local paper the Daily Gazette reported, the incident occurred on 25 February and involved a dog-walker finding a badger struggling to free themselves from the snare. Furthermore, a representative of North East Essex Badger Group told the paper that the device was set along the path badgers were taking from a nearby sett.

Protect the Wild contacted North East Essex Badger Group, who said the dog-walker had reported the snared badger to them in the morning. It added that the dog-walker:

“told us the badger was still alive, so we mobilised a couple of people and they got there pretty soon. Within about 10 to 15 minutes. They saw a vehicle driving away but didn’t connect it at the time. But when they got to where the lady had told them to go, all that was left was a pool of blood.”

The Protection of Badgers Act makes the creature a protected species, meaning it is a criminal offence to intentionally target or kill one. Snares in themselves remain legal. However, it is illegal to target badgers with them. This hasn’t stopped farmers, gamekeepers and other ‘rural custodians’ from catching non-target species with snares, though. As Protect the Wild previously reported, a Scottish government advisory board estimated that up to 69% of animals caught in snares are non-target species.

Badger caught in a snare on Moscarr Estate
Badger caught in a snare on Moscarr Estate, via Hunt Investigation Team.

Suspicious circumstances

North East Essex Badger Group told Protect the Wild that the snare found in Fordham was itself legal. However, knowingly setting it along a badger run is criminal. As a result, the slim window within which the badger was found and then disappeared is highly suspicious.

The badger group said on 7 March that Essex Police are investigating the case. The force told Protect the Wild:

We were informed of a wildlife incident in Fordham, Colchester on Saturday 25 February. It was reported that a snare and some blood had been found at Church Road.

“As part of an investigation, an officer attended the location. No injured badger was found.

“Anyone with information should call 101 and quote reference 42/34344/23.

Essex Police also said it believed the badger was first caught in wire fencing and then a snare. It also stressed that there was no evidence to suggest the badger was taken away from the scene and hidden.

Snare found at Hilborough Estate

North East Essex Badger Group believes differently. It said that someone, possibly a gamekeeper, may have arrived at the snare, shot the badger, and taken their body away. However, as the group told Daily Gazette, there is no hard evidence to back up this theory. When Protect the Wild asked if it was aware of any shooting estates or farms nearby, the badger group highlighted one nearby farm.

Ban snares now

Farmers, landowners and gamekeepers target badgers for a variety of reasons, largely owing to the perceived economic damage they do. The Hunt Investigation Team, for example, exposed Moscar shooting estate in both 2017 and 2020 for using snares to kill badgers. And Protect the Wild recently reported on a badger that died after they were caught by a ‘legal’ snare in Great Houghton, Northamptonshire. A report commissioned by the National Anti Snaring Campaign estimated that 69% of badgers caught in legal snares are unable to escape so-called ‘breakaway snares’ that are supposed to let non-target species break free.

Both Wales and Scotland are currently on a path towards banning the use of snares completely. Westminster, however, is effectively ignoring the issue, as Charlie Moores’ report on a government ‘debate’ about snares revealed. But these cruel devices are a detriment to wildlife however they are used, and we must end their use completely.

You can donate to the North East Essex Badger Group via its website.