AN INVESTIGATION has been launched after an attempt was made to poison dozens of badgers.

A local badger action group raised the alarm today after discovering buckets of poison had been poured into 20 setts.

Now police on the Isle of Wight are working with the group and the RSPCA to investigate the incident, which happened on land behind Boxers Lane in Niton.

Wildlife crime officer PC Nick Massey said: “Badgers are a protected species and it is an offence to kill them and also interfere with badger setts. It is also an offence to lay any poison on any land.

“We want to hear from anyone who might have seen any suspicious activity in this area or near to any badger sett.”

And RSPCA Inspector Mark Buggie added: “There's no doubt in my mind this was a deliberate act of cruelty.

"It was the largest amount of poison I have ever seen - there was buckets of the stuff dumped at the entrance of these setts.

“We have spent most of the afternoon digging this poison away to make sure the area is not only safe for the badgers in the area, but also the people dogs and children who frequent the footpath.

"The poison could have caused a horrible and incredibly painful death, involving a lot of internal bleeding and pain.”

They are urging anyone with information to get in touch with PC Massey at Shanklin police station on 101.