Picture gallery: One badger saved, three dead after poison incident in Saffron Walden

This female badger recieved treatment and was re-released into the wild. Picture by The South Essex

This female badger recieved treatment and was re-released into the wild. Picture by The South Essex Wildlife Hospital. - Credit: Archant

THREE badgers have died, and a fourth was left in a critical condition, after being poisoned in an act blasted as ‘appalling and reckless’.

So far in April, two male badgers have been found dead outside the sett, in the Great Chesterford area, and a third had to be put down because the fits it was suffering from were too severe to be treated.

A female badger was also found close to the sett but has been re-released back into the wild after being nursed back to health.

Derek Barry, field officer for Uttlesford Badger Group – a conservation organisation – said: “This is absolutely appalling and reckless. Until we know what kind of poison has been used, there is a danger to other badgers in the area, as well as other animals including dogs.

“We have got to be so careful because people read into things, such as bovine TB, that they haven’t read correctly. There’s none of that in Essex at all.

“This is the first time in my 20 years working for the badger group that I have heard of badgers being poisoned here and I have not heard of badger baiting for a number of years.”

The police were first contacted by the group on April 5 when two badgers were found poisoned close to the sett.

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One of them was still alive but had to be put down by the RSPCA. A few days later a female, who had cubs, was treated and returned to the wild. It is not known if she has been re-united with her cubs, or if they are still alive.

A fourth badger was found in a state of fitting on the side of the road on Tuesday, but could not be saved.

The three badger corpses have been sent to Natural England where autopsies will be carried out to establish which poison was used.

Essex Police’s wildlife crime officer, Pc Andy Long, said: “Badgers are a protected species and it is an offence to kill them or interfere with their setts. It is also an offence to lay poison on any land.

“We want to hear from anyone who might have seen any suspicious activity on roads in that area or from anyone who might have seen items being thrown from vehicles or left at the roadside.”

Anyone with information should contact Pc Long on 101 or e-mail wildlife@essex.pnn.police.uk