A badger was found hung by its neck from a football goal crossbar near a school in a "sickening" act.
The RSPCA is appealing for information about the incident at a sports field opposite Becket Keys School in Brentwood, Essex.
The incident was reported to the school by a distressed member of the public on Friday.
A caretaker from the school took the lifeless badger down to prevent it being seen by children and called the RSPCA.
Ann Bennett, from the RSPCA, said: "We’d like to get to the bottom of this sickening, deliberate act of cruelty to a wild animal.
"The incident is particularly disturbing as we suspect this badger was alive when it was strung up, as there was blood around its nose and mouth."
It is an offence to intentionally injure, kill or take a badger under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.
Anyone with information to assist the investigation is asked to call the RSPCA appeals line on 0300 123 8018 and leave a message for trainee inspector Bennett.