As well working as an Ecologist for UES I am vice-chair of the Wirral and Cheshire Badger Group. As a volunteer for the group I am on call to respond to incidents which may include badger injuries, reports or badger persecutions, police incidents and issues with badgers on residential, commercial and industrial properties.
On a sunny morning in summer 2015 a resident of mid-Cheshire had been out at a local woodland walking his dogs when he came across a badger caught in a fence. He quickly returned home and contacted the Wirral and Cheshire Badger Group, and we immediately set out to attend to the badger.
The local man, Harry, came out with us to show us the location of the badger. On arrival we quickly realised that the badger was not caught in a fence but was in fact caught in a snare. At this point it was obvious that the badger had been snared for some time, as the surrounding ground showed signs of disturbance where the young badger had been rolling and digging to try to free himself. He was clearly exhausted and on my approach rather than try to defend himself he attempted to dig his head into the ground. This enabled me to grab the badger by the back of his neck and move him to obtain a better view of the snare. The snare was not of the illegal ‘locking’ type, and I was able to loosen the clasp enough to cut the wire with pliers. I then checked the wire had not cut into the badger before removing the snare. The badger as this point was very submissive, exhausted after his struggle and petrified by being out in the daylight and close to people. I quickly checked the badger for signs of injury – there were no external injuries and the badger had full movement in all limbs. I put the badger on the nearby well-used badger path and he quickly darted down a sett entrance around 10 metres away.
The badger sett was clearly visible from the footpath, and the snare was set on a clear badger track, leading me to suspect that badgers were intentionally targeted. We checked the rest of the area for further snares and thankfully found no more to be present. We informed Cheshire Police and the RSPCA of the incident, and also informed the Snarewatch organisation. The snare was removed and will be used in some of our Wirral and Cheshire Badger Group training sessions to help our members to identify signs of badger persecution.
I have since returned to the woodland to check for signs of similar illegal activity but thankfully have found none. Plenty of signs of badger activity can be found in the area, indicating that the badgers continue to use the woodland as their home. Whilst this was a very unpleasant incident to attend the badger was released shaken but unharmed. We are very grateful to Harry who reported the badger to us, and we are glad that we were able to respond so quickly to an act of badger persecution in our region.