It is always sad to see road kill. Whether it be small mammals, such as the common sight of rabbits killed on our roads, or maybe birds such a pheasant, it is never pleasant. A few weeks ago a fox was killed on the main road not far from my home. As I had driven past, I had hoped that is was not one of the clan that regularly visit my feeding station each night.
On the way to Tamworth this morning, we drove past not one badger on the grass verge… but two. I was dismayed that two deaths had happened so close together and thought how strange it was that both would be killed on the same stretch of road and so close together. I carried on my journey, but the more I thought about it, the more suspicious it seemed. I decided that, on my way back, I would stop and look at them; try to see if I could tell if they had been killed by a car.
It was a dismal morning and drizzling quite heavily. I did not have my camera with me, but took my phone. I walked along the verge toward the first badger. Immediately, I could tell it had not been hit by a car. It had, what appeared to me, to be a bullet wound in its head. Blood had run out of its nose onto the damp grass on which it laid. The blood was still relatively fresh and the body was not yet hard. This badger had not been dead for long. I felt sick and my hands shook as I took a photo with my phone.
Cars were stopping and asking if I was alright. I did not feel alright. I think they thought I had hit this badger. I assured worried drivers that I was fine and they drove on, leaving me at the side of the road, feeling sick to the stomach that someone could have killed this beautiful creature and then just dumped it on the verge…. trying to make it look like it had been killed by a car.
I moved down to the second badger, some 10-15m further down the verge.
This one was more bloodied about the head, but I could not see an obvious bullet wound, as on the previous creature.
Another car stopped. The guy asked if I was OK. He said he worked for the council and would ring his boss to get the badgers removed. He parked up and I went to speak to him. I explained that I felt these creature were not road kill and in fact had been illegally killed and dumped there. He rang his boss and explained the situation. Thy said they would report it.
I returned to the car, feeling shaken by what I had just witnessed. I wondered how often this happened… animals illegally killed and disposed of in this way. If it had been a single creature, I probably would not have looked more closely. … maybe we should… maybe this happens more often than we think.
I returned home and searched the Internet for my local WIldlife Crime Officer. I discovered that Staffordshire Police have 11 Wildlife Crime Officers stationed throughout the county who have all attended the National Wildlife Crime Officers Course. Between them they have many years of experience dealing with Wildlife and Countryside Matters. I phoned to report this crime. Tomorrow I am going to speak to the officer in charge of this area. May be I can find out more about this kind of crime, but as the officer explained, there is little they can do in cases such as this. We must report them though.
I cannot get the images of these creatures out of my mind. I wondered whether to publish my photos, but in the end, I feel we must be aware of such crimes and if I can help raise awareness and make people question whether the apparent ‘road kill’ really is as it seems, then maybe showing these distressing images will have been worthwhile. Maybe these creature were the more lucky ones… their death would have been relatively quick. They did not look like they had been set upon by dogs or baited in any way.
A terrible waste of a life.