Police investigating after three badgers shot and dumped near public footpath

Three dead badgers were dumped in fields next to a public footpath in what campaigners have branded one of the worst wildlife “persecution incidents ever seen in Britain”. The shot creatures’ lifeless, bloodied carcasses were lined up in the countryside over the weekend, prompting a police probe. Officers are investigating claims the animals may have been ditched in fields late on Saturday night.

A Derbyshire Police spokeswoman said: “A member of the public called us on April 18 to report that there were three dead badgers in two fields off Maynestone Road, Chinley. “Officers from our Rural Crime Team attended and it was clear that the badgers had been shot.

Derbyshire Police are investigating after three badgers were found in fields off Maynestone Road, Chinley

“We have been told that a dark pick-up truck had been seen in the area late in the evening of April 17. “We are investigating and would urge anyone with information, or anyone who was driving in the area between 10pm and 11.30pm on April 17 who may have dash cam footage, to come forward.

Born Free Foundation wildlife advocate Dominic Dyer said: “The three shot badgers in Derbyshire is one of the worst persecution incidents ever seen in Britain and it comes as no surprise to see this wildlife crime taking place in a county where badger culling has caused so much controversy and division between wildlife conservationists and the farming community. “It’s time the Government and farming industry stops demonising badgers and ends the cruel costly and ineffective badger cull, which is also leading to such widespread persecution of this protected species.” Some 140,830 badgers have been culled since 2013 in a bid to curb the spread of tuberculosis in cows.

Supporters of the cull blame badgers for fuelling bovine TB in cows

A total of 38,642 badgers were killed last autumn in the programme.

Supporters of the policy believe killing badgers helps stop the spread of bovine TB in cattle, with badgers blamed for carrying the disease around the countryside, infecting cattle. But opponents believe the shooting programme is ineffective. In January, the Government signalled the scheme would start to be wound down from 2022.

But thousands more badgers face being shot this autumn after a dozen new applications were made for cull licences.

Natural England said it received “12 licence applications /expressions of interest in respect to 2021 badger control licensing”.

More than 40 existing, four-year licences will continue in 2021 alongside the new licences, if they are granted.