The RSPCA has shared distressing photos of a badger who was found dead in front of its sett after being caught in a snare in Northumberland. 

The animal became trapped by a suspected self-locking snare, an illegal device which had deeply embedded in his neck and had to be cut away in three places.

RSPCA inspector Rachael Hurst was called to the village of Lucker on Monday (29 May) after a member of the public had found the deceased animal attached by the snare to a wooden fence.

The law in England and Wales protects badgers and means that it is an offence to injure, kill, or take a badger, or to set a snare to catch one. 

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The RSPCA has now appealed to anyone with information about the incident to come forward.

Rachael said: “The snare had become deeply embedded in the badger’s neck and it looked like he’d rolled and twisted several times in an attempt to free himself.

"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. 

“Residents in the village have heard about what’s happened and are understandably upset and we’d urge anyone with information to contact us via our inspectorate appeal line on 0300 123 8018.”

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A spokesperson said that the RSPCA is opposed to the manufacture, sale and use of all snares and any traps which cause suffering.

"This incident highlights - yet again - the cruel and indiscriminate nature of the devices and the immense suffering they cause to animals like badgers, but also other species like foxes and even domestic pets."

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 prohibits the use of self-locking snares which, as a variation on the traditional noose, tighten as the animal struggles to escape. It is illegal to set these devices for birds, deer, badgers and certain other species, although snares cannot distinguish between animals and often trap the wrong victim.

Under the Act, users of these snares must take all reasonable precautions to prevent injury to protected animals, but precautions provide no guarantee against such an event.

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Although ‘free-running’ snares can be used legally in England to trap certain species of wild mammals - excluding badgers - if it becomes locked, either through design, poor maintenance or improper positioning, the device can cause stress, injury and death. 

It’s also a legal requirement to check snares at least once a day, yet from the severity of the injuries seen by RSPCA officers, it seems many people do not follow even this minimal requirement.

If you find an injured wild animal the advice is to stay back to avoid stressing them further and call the RSPCA’s emergency line on 0300 1234 999.