Police delve into the mystery of dead badger in Coopers Meadow
Police have now ruled out the possibility that a dead badger found with a rubber ring round its neck on the edge of Cooper’s Meadow, Marlborough, early on Sunday may have been a victim of badger baiters.
But how it got there – and how it died – remains a mystery unlikely to be solved, one new factor being that injuries to its abdomen are likely to have been inflicted by rats or even birds.
The young animal, found under trees on the edge of the River Kennet, just beyond the bridge to the Waitrose car park, by early morning dog walkers, is more likely to have been dumped there by a motorist who killed it on the road.
A black plastic bag in which it might have been carried was found close to the body. The rubber ring too may have been a means of dragging it to the spot.
But that theory is also open to doubt as a local naturalist pointed out that badgers are more often gassed or shot on farmers’ land. They are then deposited on busy roads, to make it appear as if they were killed by a passing vehicle.
“It really remains a bit of a mystery,” Wiltshire Police’s rural crime team officer PC John Bordiss told Marlborough News Online. “It is clearly illegal to kill or injure a badger. If anyone has any information that may be of help to us then will they please contact Marlborough police station.”
PC Bordiss contacted a local badger group and Natural England after police received reports of the dead badger and they photographed the scene.
An RSPCA inspector subsequently visited Cooper’s Meadow, examined the dead badger, took more photographs and ruled out the need for a post mortem. He concluded that it was not a case of badger baiting.
And it now appears that the injuries to the badger are likely to have happened after it was dumped.
Val Compton, a Wiltshire Wildlife Trust rescue volunteer, who lives nearby, saw the dead animal after she was alerted of its discovery. She reports that it had no injuries when she too took photographs (see picture).
“I suspect the injury that was photographed some time later may have been caused by another animal or bird having a feast,” she told Marlborough News Online. “Knowing the number of rats in Cooper’s Meadow, I can imagine they would not have taken long to find it.”
“But the rubber band around its neck could have been used as a tourniquet to strangle it.”
PC Bordiss pointed out there was no evidence of badger baiting taking place in Wiltshire, the crime being more prevalent in neighbouring counties like Gloucestershire.
“Usually they cut off the front paws, terribly as that is, but that hadn’t happened here,” he said. “We have heard of no similar incidents happening.”
“And if it is badger baiting, then why leave the animal there?”
The police have logged and recorded the badger’s demise. “It’s very difficult for us to dig deeper,” added PC Bordiss. “There is no trail that we can follow. We have done all we can so far.”
“We shall keep a watch out in case there are further incidents happening.”