THE death of a badger is being used to highlight the growing problem of animal cruelty, with calls for police to take more action.

‎Lynn Sawyer from Three Counties Hunt Saboteurs said the find of the dead badger was one of the most shocking things she had seen.

Ms Sawyer said she and a fellow animal rights campaigner had been examining a badger sett in Himbleton, Droitwich, when they came across some loose earth.

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“We pulled the soil back and saw a badger’s paw sticking out what looked like the sett’s entrance,” she said.

“We tried to pull her out - we didn’t know if the badger was alive or dead at that point.

“We pulled her out and then we noticed she had got severe lacerations to her back end, and what appeared to be a bullet hole - a small hole in her skull.

“There was a lot of blood, it was fresh.

“An X-ray later proved that she had been shot.

“We were shocked. We had never come across that before, it was absolutely shocking.”

Ms Sawyer said they reported it to the police, after the find on November 9.

“The problem is animal cruelty is not being taken seriously,” she said.

“In the police figures, this is not even reported as a crime.

“What is the point in passing a law, if police are not prepared to investigate it.

“The problem is the wildlife officers have other duties that come first. In West Mercia, we have that problem. We have a lot of wildlife crime, like badger baiting and setting setts on fire - but there are no resources to deal with it.”

Ms Sewer added that even after arrests and successful prosecutions the worst someone can be sentenced to is six months prison, which in her experience was rare.

“If the deterrent is not there, they feel like they will get away with it,” she said.

A West Mercia Police spokesman said: “West Mercia Police currently have 25 trained Wildlife Crime Officers (WCOs) across the force area with plans to train an additional 15 in 2020. These officers are able to investigate and support colleagues in the investigation of wildlife crimes, which can range from poaching offences to the illegal importation of CITES listed items. WCOs have also been provided with specialised equipment, including forensic kits, in order to employ the latest methods of detection and evidence collection.

West Mercia Police records all reports of wildlife crime called in by the public.

Wildlife crime is not a victimless crime. The perpetrators can often be involved in other associated crimes. Anyone with information should call 999/101 or, anonymously, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.