The RSPCA is probing the deaths of five badgers in Gloucestershire amid concerns they were killed illegally.
A distressed member of the public discovered the badgers’ remains in Elmstone Hardwicke, near Cheltenham last week.
The carcasses, some of which were badly decomposing, were of both adult and juvenile badgers. X-rays revealed the animals had not been shot, but the cause of death is unknown.
RSPCA animal welfare officer Steve Davies said the grim discovery was a “real concern”, and he reminded the public that badgers are a protected species and it was illegal to kill or injure them, except under licence.
“This discovery is of real concern to us and it is important to remind the general public that badgers are a protected species,” said Mr Davies.
“It would appear that the badgers were killed illegally and therefore I am urging anyone with information about this incident to please get in touch with me.”
RSPCA senior wildlife scientist Colin Booty said the ongoing controversy regarding badgers and bovine TB and the government’s proposed cull could have confused some people.
But he added: “The science is very clear that localised killing of badgers increases the risk of disease spread.
“So if, as seems likely, these badgers have been killed illegally it could add to the disease risk faced by farmers.”
Under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 it is an offence to kill, injure, cruelly ill-treat, dig for, damage or destroy a badger sett or cause a dog to enter a badger sett. Anyone found guilty could face a prison sentence of up to six months or be fined up to £5,000.
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