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Luckiest badger in the world who survived two lethal traps is released back into wild

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The badger rescued near Hillsborough, Co Down

The badger rescued near Hillsborough, Co Down

The badger rescued near Hillsborough, Co Down

It's been dubbed the "miracle badger" by its rescuers.

Not only was the distressed animal found snagged with a snare round its neck, but when the vet removed it another snare was found beneath, embedded in its neck with the skin growing over it.

That means it had probably been suffering since becoming caught in a snare as a cub.

But earlier this week the badger was released back into the wild after a couple of weeks' recovery at the USPCA's animal hospital in Newry.

The young male was found on land near Hillsborough, Co Down, by a passer-by who was alerted by its distressed cries.

"It had dug out an area the size of a garden pond while it was trying to get the snare off," Northern Ireland Badger Group spokesman Peter Clarke said.

"The local vet took it in - he took one snare off it and found something under it, another snare embedded in its neck, so it had been caught when it was a cub.

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"We're keeping an eye on that area - another badger was found snared about a year ago."

Peter said you don't even need a licence to put down a snare and many of those who use them to target foxes don't check them often enough.

"If that badger hadn't been heard it would have just struggled there until it died," he said.

"It was found on the coldest night of the year so it had been struggling for hours. I think snares should be banned. Farmers who are troubled by foxes should use live cage traps, so that if they catch a badger they can let it go.

"We've come across a few snaring cases. In Scotland people aren't allowed to use snares unless they are licensed and the snares have to be numbered. I don't agree with snaring at all, but that is a halfway house."

The USPCA, which has been caring for the badger, said it has inoculated the animal against tuberculosis.

"People would use excuses that snares are put out for foxes, but even family pets can find themselves into them. It wouldn't be unusual to find a cat hanging from them," spokesman David Wilson said.

"I wouldn't be advocating the use of snares under any circumstances. They are indiscriminate and they catch anything that's out at night."

Alliance MP Naomi Long said she has asked the Agriculture Minister to ban snares and ensure licences are required for traps to prevent illegal trapping.

Background

Badgers are exceptional diggers and live in small groups. They are shy, nocturnal animals that emerge at dusk to feed and groom. Badgers and their setts are protected by law throughout Ireland and the UK.

There is no scientific evidence that badgers are responsible for TB outbreaks in cattle. DARD is carrying out a bovine TB wildlife intervention programme in Co Down, vaccinating badgers that are clear of TB and removing those that are infected.


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