The Badger Rehabilitator’s and Enthusiast’s Handbook

coverlow-resLancashire Badger Group is delighted to announce our collaboration with a long term, experienced member of the Group – Andy Parr – to create a new handbook.

 

Badger cubs are frequently admitted to rescue centres throughout the UK (mainland) as ‘orphans’.

Whilst working as a Wildlife Release Manager at one of the UK’s largest and most respected badger rehabilitation facilities; Secret World in Somerset, Andy recognised that there were gaps in our understanding of how and why badger cubs come to be admitted into rescue and rehabilitation centres and subsequently into long term rehabilitation.

His research suggests that around 50-60% of badger cubs may not be true orphans and therefore in many of these cases it may be appropriate and preferable to attempt to return these cubs to their natal sett.

Over a 5-year period Andy explored different techniques in returning badger cubs of all ages, some of which may also be considered appropriate for other species.

In the book, Andy describes how in these cases, with the appropriate support and consideration, cubs can successfully be returned to the natal sett.  Using detailed case studies and providing key points and methods to consider in each example, Andy has produced a unique reference tool for badger groups, and wildlife rescue centres alike.

The handbook will be available in our online shop from 5th November, at a cost of £9.99. All profits from the book will go to Lancashire Badger Group.

Look out for Andy at our AGM in March when he will be speaking about his research on this subject!

 

Heavens Above!

From the graveyard to the loft… and back again!

We recently received a call on our incident line from a woman in Rossendale who had found a badger cub curled up in a graveyard in broad daylight. Realising that something was wrong, she managed to get the badger into a dog-crate and take it home. We wouldn’t recommend rescue and handling of badgers without the proper equipment and training, but the badger was small and docile. Or so they thought…

Poorly badger June

In the middle of the night the woman and her husband heard a great commotion above them and realised that the badger had dug its way out of the dog-crate and was rummaging around in the attic room where they had put it. It had managed to get right into the eaves of the house! A perfect example of why it’s sometimes best to get the experts with the equipment in! Donning gardening gloves, they were however able to re-capture it, and return it to the crate. The next morning they rang Lancashire Badger Group for advice. A small team of volunteers went to the house and transferred the badger into one of our specialist cages. It had made its bed in a small cardboard box so it was easy to move the box and badger across together.

 

The badger was transported to our friends at Woodlands Animal Sanctuary, where Lancashire Badger Group have funded a specialist facility for badgers. There it was taken to a vet and prescribed antibiotics. After a few days he (or she) began to perk up, and was being described as “feisty”. Not so easy to handle but a very good sign that he was recovering well!

At this time of year, most badger cubs will be weaned and able to survive without their mother. It was possible that our badger could have been a late cub, but Woodlands were able to confirm that he was eating solid foods, so we were confident that he was weaned.  Having had a fairly long spell of dry weather, it’s likely that he or she had found it difficult to get at the staple diet of badgers – earthworms.

With the badger doing well, a decision was made to release it back where it was found, so that it could return to his sett.  A badger of this age may well be foraging alone at least some of the time and will be familiar with its own territory.

The couple who had found the cub met Lancashire Badger Group volunteers back at the graveyard and pointed out the exact place where it had been. We set the cage down close by and let it acclimatise itself to the surroundings.

Within a minute the cub was exhibiting sure signs that suggested it knew where it was. It had previously been doing a lot of scratching around in the cage making a nice bed, but on finding itself back in the graveyard this turned to very purposeful digging at the cage to get out. We carefully raised the door of the cage, and the cub made its way out and went straight to the bush where it’d been found a few days earlier. Almost immediately he or she was out of sight as it went deeper into the undergrowth. At least one member of the team admits to having a tear in her eye at this point!

June release2

The kind folk who found the cub will be keeping an eye out in case it is around in daylight again. We hope never to see this cub again, but are glad to have helped another badger through the ups and downs of the it’s first few months of life.

We’d like to thank Woodlands for their excellent care of the cub, and the kind people who found him or her for alerting us. If you find a badger out in daylight please ring our Badger Emergency Line on 08448 707908.

 

National Badger Day – 6th October

Leading naturalists and broadcasters from Chris Packham and Steve Backshall to Virginia Mckenna, Nigel Marven and Bill Oddie come together to celebrate National Badger Day on Tuesday 6 October

The Badger Trust is organising National Badger Day on Tuesday 6 October to celebrate and draw public attention to the badger, our largest surviving carnivore (and it loves worms), which has lived in the United Kingdom for over 400,000 years.

National Badger Day will see numerous events across the country aimed at drawing attention to the badger, its ecology and behaviour and how we must do more to protect the species from the many threats it faces in our countryside, towns and cities.

These will include local fund raising events for Badger Trust Groups, supporting badger patrols in the cull zones, lectures on badgers for adults and children, organised badger watches and articles in the media celebrating badgers.

In a specially commissioned film to promote National Badger Day, leading naturalists and broadcasters including Chris Packham, Steve Backshall, Bill Oddie, Nigel Marven and Virginia McKenna have spoken of their admiration and fondness for the badger and how we must do more to protect the species and its habitats in the future. The trailer can be viewed here.

Speaking in the film the following contributors said:

Chris Packham

“Caring about conservation is not enough. To make a difference we have to actually do something. I urge you to support National Badger Day.”

Steve Backshall

I’m absolutely smitten by badgers. Every time I see a badger it’s still a treasure and a precious moment.

“They are a fabulous animal and one that I absolutely adore and everyone in the British countryside should learn to love them.”

Bill Oddie

“They aren’t dangerous, they are beautiful and it is a privilege to see them.

“Badger Day events are going on around the country. I promise you if you turn up for National Badger Day you will have a good time, you’ll learn a bit too and you will be helping badgers.”

 

Virginia McKenna

“National Badger Day is a very important day. It’s wild animals that make the world so beautiful. I really hope you, as well as your schools and friends, will support it.”

Nigel Marven

“I’m supporting National Badger Day because badgers are beautiful and beguiling. I want young and old to realise that and see one in the wild for themselves, an encounter they will never forget.”

Link to film

Speaking about the importance of National Badger Day, Dominic Dyer, the CEO of the Badger Trust said:

“As we celebrate National Badger Day badgers are being killed in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Dorset in a desperate attempt to reduce the spread of bovine TB, despite all the evidence showing this policy is a disastrous failure on scientific, animal welfare and cost grounds.

“Badgers are one of our most important native species that have survived in our landscapes despite the constant threat of persecution, destruction of their habitats and death on our roads. It is time we recognised their value and importance to our eco system and celebrated their strength, beauty and resilience in the face of the many threats they encounter every day.”

Footnote

Link to NBD website and list of events www.badgerevents.org.uk

Dominic Dyer 07876 596233

Emily Lawrence  07702 646820

 

Badger Trust condemns continued culling as “Completely irrational’

UK’s leading naturalists and broadcasters Chris Packham and Steve Backshall agree.

The Badger Trust has condemned the government’s decision to continue with the pilot badger culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset as ‘completely irrational’.

“These culls were sold to the public as an experiment to see if free-shooting badgers was humane and effective,” says the Badger Trust’s CEO, Dominic Dyer, “and on both counts they have comprehensively failed.”

The government’s Independent Expert Panel (IEP) and now the British Veterinary Association (BVA) have condemned free shooting as ‘inhumane’ .  There was a failure to achieve the minimum number of badgers killed in either annual cull in Gloucestershire and in Somerset the second year of culling achieved a much reduced target figure.

“However, the real scandal is that the vast majority of culled badgers will not have had Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB),” continues Dominic Dyer. “The government has insisted that none of them are tested for the disease either before or after they are killed. This means the culling method is not only ‘blind’ but also that there is no way of ever knowing if it has worked.

“Defra’s own data suggest that while 15% of badgers may test positive for bTB, just 1.6% of them are capable of passing on the disease. This means 98.4% pose no risk whatsoever to cattle and 85% are likely to be completely bTB free. Trying to control bTB in cattle by culling badgers that don’t have bTB doesn’t make any sense.”

Two of the UK’s leading naturalists and broadcasters Chris Packham and Steve Backshall have joined with the Badger Trust to condemn the government’s decision. “Ignoring science and going back to the dark ages culling badgers to keep certain lobbies happy, is a terrible idea,” says Steve Backshall, whilst Chris Packham has said, “There are plenty of reasons to oppose the culling of badgers but underpinning them all is the fact that the science says, indeed all the scientists say, that it’s the wrong thing to do”.

“The government and the farming lobby are continuing to play the badger blame game in order to mask their failure to properly control this disease,” says Badger Trust Chairman, Peter Martin, “the Welsh Government’s approach has been far more successful by focusing on improved testing and movement controls in cattle. New incidents of  bTB in Wales are down 28% with a 45% cut in the number of cattle being slaughtered. This leaves 94% of the Welsh herd now free of bTB, without culling any badgers”.

The Badger Trust is urging the government to adopt the same approach in England and also to consider the economics of the cull. “Two years of badger culling have cost the tax payer in the region of £15 million,” continues Peter Martin, “it’s the most expensive wildlife cull of its kind on record. And to what effect? Culling badgers costs ten times more than vaccinating them”.

“To cap it all,” concludes Dominic Dyer, “Defra’s latest figures [1] show TB incidents in and around the cull zones are actually increasing. This was predicted not just by the scientists but was also highlighted as a serious concern in the government’s own risk assessments. Taking all these factors into consideration, their decision to carry on culling badgers is completely irrational”.

dom dyer

“DEFRA’s December 2011 policy on badger culling confirmed that it will be necessary to undertake a further cost/benefit analysis before rolling out culling beyond the two pilot areas (paragraph 4.18):

‘Culling in two pilot areas will enable us to test our and the farming industry’s cost assumptions for elements of the policy where there is currently uncertainty. Alongside the outcome of the evaluation of culling in the pilot areas (see paragraph 6.1), this will also inform our decision on wider roll-out of the policy.’

“As far as we are aware, no such cost/benefit analysis has yet been undertaken, and it is not clear how it could be undertaken until the conclusion of the pilot culls.

“The decision to extend the badger cull to Dorset in particular has no scientific justification as the County has seen one of the largest declines in bTB rates in England with a 37.25% drop between 2012 to 2014 without killing any badgers.”

Notes to Editors

 

1. Defra source:

Contact:

Dominic Dyer   07876 596233

We’re Past The Halfway Mark!

Lancashire Badger Group has embarked on a giant re-survey project of the setts we have on our database, well over 800 of them! As part of our 2017 Vision Plan, we set ourselves the target of updating all our records (as well as increasing our sett monitoring volunteers) – over time we have lost volunteers in certain areas and have been unable to cover them all. We know how important it is to keep up to date records, held centrally for a number of reasons;

1. We can hold an accurate and current picture of badgers across the county, allowing us to comment on strategic plans (with regard to development and planning) and also from a more scientific point of view, this can act as a springboard for research.

2. It allows us to provide accurate information to ecological consultants working for developers. This helps to protect setts from accidental destruction and allows the developer to take this information into account at the design stage. This service also brings in important income to the group.

3. We can use up to date records to support prosecution in wildlife crime cases. If we can prove a sett was active only a week before the crime was committed, the case is stronger for it. These records prove vital in court, where the defence is often that the sett was not active.

We’ve been out surveying in all weather and we’ve just gone over halfway (400 setts!). That’s a lot of hours survey, so a huge pat on the back and thank you to everyone involved!

If you would like to help with our big sett survey please get in touch via our enquiries line (0844707908) or volunteering@lancashirebadgergroup.org.uk

Fight for foxes and badgers comes to Downing Street

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

14th July 2015

 

Fight for foxes and badgers comes to Downing Street

 

 

The Badger Trust and their organiser Emily Lawrence will be joining with other animal welfare organisations and campaigners to hold what is expected to be the largest ever wildlife protection protest held outside 10 Downing Street on Wednesday 15 July.

 

The protest will coincide with the debate and vote in the House of Commons on the amendment of the 2004 Hunting Act, which if passed will result in a serious weakening of the ban on fox hunting across England and Wales and could also lead to an increase in the illegal persecution of badgers by fox hunts.

 

Polls show that the vast majority of the UK public in both urban and rural communities are firmly opposed to the cruelty of hunting with dogs and support the retention of the Hunting Act in its current form. Thousands of people from across the country are expected to attend the protest. Speakers at the protest will include the CEO of the Badger Trust Dominic Dyer, actor and animal welfare campaigner Peter Egan, former MP and Trustee of the League Against Cruel Sports Chris Williamson and wildlife campaigner and broadcaster Anneka Svenska.

 

Speaking ahead of the protest, CEO of the Badger Trust Dominic Dyer said:

 

“Whatever the government might say, the amendment to be put to the vote on Wednesday has nothing to do with helping farmers control fox numbers.  It’s a clear back door attempt to weaken the ban on fox hunting as a blood sport and to test the water for full repeal of the Hunting Act in this Parliament, which would also allow the return of stag hunting and hare coursing.

 

“The Badger Trust is also very concerned about the impact of fox hunting on badger persecution. In the last few days we have received video evidence of fox hunt workers pouring diesel down badger setts and blocking and digging in badger setts, all of which are illegal under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 and could result in a six month prison sentence. We believe this illegal activity is widespread within the fox hunting community and the situation will get far worse, should the ban on fox hunting be weakened on Wednesday. Equally, we are concerned that if this parliamentary tactic is successful then the government will use the same unscrupulous method to weaken or amend the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.

 

“If the pro-hunting lobby in government thought they could push this amendment vote through before the Summer recess with little public and political opposition they have badly miscalculated.

 

“We are confident that at least 40 Tory MPs will vote against, abstain or not participate in the vote on Wednesday, this will include new Ministers such as Dominic Raab and Tracey Crouch, the former Tory Party Chairman Grant Shapps and the favourite Tory candidate for London Mayor, Zac Goldsmith. First Minister of Scotland and Leader of the Scottish National Party Nicola Sturgeon has announced that SNP MPs will join Labour MPs and Tory rebels in voting against the amendment.”

Update on earlier release

The government, under huge public pressure and following the decision by the SNP to join Labour and Tory rebels in voting against the Hunting Act amendment, have postponed the Commons vote scheduled for Wednesday 15 July.

However, the Badger Trust believes it is vital that we keep up the public and political pressure on the government to stop any further moves to weaken the Hunting Act and potentially the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 and we will therefore be continuing with our mass protest at Downing Street at 12.30 on Wednesday.

 

Dominic Dyer

CEO Badger Trust

 

 

 

Cub Rescue!

It seems that whenever our Chair tries to have normal life events (birthdays, wedding anniversaries etc), or we have stretched resources (an event, a holidaying acting Incidents Officer) the badgers decide to throw in a curve ball. Last Thursday’s curve ball was a sick badger cub, found by a lovely chap on his land who was concerned enough to find us and get in touch. Jo went out and the cub was so flat she barely reacted to being picked up, apart from a couple of gentle huffs. Given a bit of dog food she did, however, attempt to eat.

A vet was swiftly identified who agreed to treat her and she was whisked down for an examination. At first it was thought she needed to be euthanised, but after a chat with Quantock Veterinary Practice, who are experts with badgers, she was put on antibiotics and a drip to see how she went overnight.

Eating well!

Eating well!

Fortunately she really picked up and we were then able to take her to Woodlands Animal Sanctuary in West Lancs with the hope that she would continue to improve. Once there she also saw their vet (from Rufford Veterinary Group), who provided a little more treatment and we are pleased to say that she has continued to recover in leaps and bounds since then, and is now a little too hot to handle!

We’d like to thank Woodlands for their ongoing care, and we hope to attempt a release back to her home territory as soon as possible, provided we are confident that she can find her way home. If we are not, we will work with other organisations to put her with other cubs for future release. We’d also like to thank Merseyside Naturalists Association for providing us with the equipment we needed to pick her up and transport her safely.  Hopefully we will very soon be able to use it again to get her back to her family.

If you would like to help us with a donation for her veterinary care please

Alternatively, we have an Amazon Wishlist for equipment for our rescue kits and we are always grateful for any items however small. The wishlist can be found here:

Amazon Badger Rescue Equipment List

We’re Looking for an Education Officer

We are currently looking for a volunteer Education Officer. If you are looking for valuable practical experience in an educational and environmental role please get in touch for more information. The role is for 6 months (at least), two days per week, and will involve some work in schools and working to produce educational materials.  You will need to be confident, self motivated and have excellent communication skills. Read More….

Our AGM is on 28th March!

This year’s AGM will be held on Saturday 28th March at Samlesbury War Memorial Hall, Cuerdale Road, Samlesbury, Preston, PR5 0UY from 5.30pm.

Our speakers are Operation Meles lead and ex Scottish Wildlife Officer and Species Protection Officer, Ian Hutchison and PhD student Elsa Sandoval-Barron on her project on badgers with tb. For more information and to book your supper visit our AGM page.