ANIMAL lovers are in shock after finding a mutilated baby badger near to where an adult was shot dead just two weeks ago.

Members of the North East Essex Badger Group came across the grisly sight when checking a sett in Belchamp Otten on Monday.

The cub, which is thought to be only about six weeks old, was found with three of its feet and its tail cut off.

Several weeks ago an adult badger was found shot in the same place.

North East Essex Badger Group chairman Renee Hockley-Byam said they regularly check the sett because of the recent shooting.

She said: “That badger had been shot in the abdomen at close range.

“It was really gruesome.”

Members did not realise the extent of the dead cub’s injuries when they arrived at the sett on Monday.

Renee said: “The badger had puncture wounds which looked like they were from a dog and three of its feet and its tail were missing.

“You never know what you might find when you go down there now and you are almost scared to go – it’s really horrible.

“The badger was only around six weeks old.

“I have no idea why people are doing this.

“We often find run-over badgers and so we are used to dead animals, but to think someone mutilated it is awful.”

The same day members of the badger group had rescued two cubs of the same age from a different sett and taken them to Wildlife Aid.

The group has informed the police and have put up posters appealing for information following the attacks.

Badgers and their setts are protected by law.

Anyone caught harming or interfering with the mammals could face up to six months in prison.

An Essex Police spokesman said: “We are investigating reports that badgers were killed in woodland in Belchamp Otten.

“We received an online report on Monday that a badger died after suffering injuries.

“This incident follows a report two weeks ago that another badger received suspected firearms injuries.

“Both incidents were within the same area of woodland and are being linked.

“We have been carrying out searches in the area and our inquiries are ongoing.”

Anyone with information should call the police’s wildlife crime officer on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.