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:
“Caring about conservation is not enough. To make a difference we have to actually do something. I urge you to support National Badger Day.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
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  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”.
“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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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:
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….
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.
The Badger Trust will take its legal challenge over the lack of independent monitoring of the badger culls currently being undertaken in Somerset and Gloucestershire to the Court of Appeal on Thursday 9 October.
This follows a hearing on 11 September where the Vice President of the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal agreed that the Badger Trust had a real prospect of success in its appeal.
The Court of Appeal will be asked by the Badger Trust to find that the Secretary of State for the Environment, Elizabeth Truss, has unlawfully failed to put in place an Independent Expert Panel to monitor and analyse the results of the continued culling of badgers in Gloucestershire and Somerset in 2014. The Trust contends that the use of such a Panel to oversee the design of data collection, its analysis and interpretation was promised by the Secretary of State while she is still considering whether to roll-out culls to other areas, and there is no lawful reason for the Secretary of State to resile from that promise. Without such a Panel, there can be no proper independent assessment of the safety, effectiveness and humaneness of the culling operation, something that would be needed before any lawful decision could be taken to continue with further culls around the country.
Professor Tim Coulson (member of the 2013 Independent Expert Panel) who spoke out against the lack of independent monitoring of the badger culls at a debate hosted by the Badger Trust and Care for the Wild at the Labour Party Conference, welcomed the Court of Appeal hearing saying:
“The Independent Expert Panel’s report states clearly the rationale for ensuring that independent monitoring and the use of the statistically robust sample sizes and analytical methods, as used in the 2013 culls, are followed in further culling exercises. If this scientific advice is ignored then the data collected during the 2014 culls will be insufficiently reliable for assessment of humaneness and effectiveness. This means that farmers, veterinarians and scientists intimately involved in controlling bovine TB will be denied the information necessary to allow them to assess whether the IEP’s recommended changes to the culling process have corrected the failings identified by the pilot culls.”
Dominic Dyer CEO of the Badger Trust and Policy Advisor at Care for the Wild commented on the Court of Appeal hearing saying:
“The refusal of DEFRA Secretary of State Elizabeth Truss to put in place any independent monitoring of the badger culls currently being undertaken in Somerset and Gloucestershire is a national disgrace.
“The Government assured us that the badger cull would be carried out more humanely this year, but within a week of it starting, Secret World Wildlife Rescue reported receiving a dead badger from the Somerset cull zone which had been shot in the abdomen. In the opinion of their consultant veterinary surgeon, Dr. Elizabeth Mullineaux MRCVS, the shot had clearly not been on target and would have been unlikely to result in the badger’s immediate death. We can be certain that this is not an isolated case and many other badgers are being killed by incompetent marksmen in similar ways, which is cruel and unacceptable.
“The caring compassionate British public will not remain silent whilst NFU contract gunmen move though our countryside at night attempting to kill badgers despite serious concerns regarding the level of training, monitoring and scrutiny. It is the view of the Badger Trust that Elizabeth Truss is acting unlawfully by stating at the Tory Party Conference that she will make a decision on the national roll out of the badger cull prior to the General Election, without any independent monitoring of the 2014 culling operation.
“I look forward to the Badger Trust putting this legal challenge before the Court of Appeal on 9 October 2014″.
Dominic Dyer CEO Badger Trust Tel: 07876 596233
Jack Reedy Badger Trust Media Adviser Tel: 07751 731107 / 01564 783129
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It’s not every day we get to hear some really good news with relation to badger persecution, but here is such a great story, we had to share! In her owner’s words, here’s Ruby’s story…
This is the story of our beautiful Patterdale /Fell terrier, Ruby – who survived against the odds when she had the misfortune to fall into the hands of barbaric badger baiters.
Five years ago we, as a family, were in the fortunate position to be able to offer a home to a rescue dog as a companion to our then only dog, a Patterdale terrier named Tiger who we had re-homed from the RSPCA. We searched the websites of various different rescues between Manchester and Leeds on a daily basis and even had meets with a couple of dogs that we hoped would be the one for us. Sadly, none of these meets worked out so it was back to trawling the rescue websites in the hope of finding a dog that would settle happily into our household.
I will never forget the first time I saw a photograph of a small terrier on one of the rescue sites. She looked so sad, with no fur on her face, blind in one eye and with obvious scarring to her head. This little dog was in our local pound and won my heart at first glance. We immediately made arrangements to go and visit her and what I saw broke my heart.
Ruby at the pound
We were taken to her kennel and saw a shivering, frightened little dog, curled up in a ball and totally shut down to the world with horrific scars to her back legs, head and the rest of her body. Her coat was filthy and stank of her own urine but I just saw a beautiful little scrap of a dog that needed some love and TLC. She had totally lost trust in the human race and it took a lot of time and patience to coax her to the front of the kennel. She tentatively sniffed my hand. Then she licked it. That was the start of her new life as Ruby – named after my favourite precious gem. She came to live with us and slowly her story began to unfold.
The staff at the pound asked us to inform our local Dog Warden that we had given the newly-named Ruby a home. This was the warden who had brought our little dog to the pound and who desperately wanted her to go to a good home before the seven days were up, when she was due to be put to sleep.
This wasn’t the Dog Warden’s first contact with Ruby; she had first seen her in the hands of some well know local hunters/poachers. She had seen them laughing, and taking photographs of her with what she described as “horrific” injuries, but unfortunately they disappeared before she could intervene. It was almost three weeks later that she got a call from the local vet, asking if she could pick up a stray dog that had been “dumped” at the reception desk.
On arrival at the vets, she had severely infected and septic wounds that had been left untreated for a prolonged period of time, was blind in one eye due to an untreated glaucoma and had nobody to pay for any treatment. Fortunately, one of the vets took pity on the dog and rather than put her to sleep, patched her up, treated her wounds and arranged for her to be taken to the local council pound. The dog warden immediately recognised her as the dog she had seen three weeks previously and the pieces of the jigsaw started to fit together.
The vet knew from the marks on the dog’s back legs, which had been ripped open right through to the muscle – and by the nature of the other injuries – that she had been used to bait a badger. This tied in with the people that the dog warden had seen her with.
When we took Ruby home she was a mess, both physically and mentally. She was still on medication and the amount of puncture wounds all over her little body was shocking. We had to take things very slowly as she was frightened of every move we made. If we crossed or uncrossed our legs she ran and hid for fear of being kicked; even reaching for a pen or cup of tea made her flinch and run away. But over a period of time we began to gain her trust. We spoke very gently to her and with a constant supply of love, kind words and lots of treats we won her round.
Just over two months later we noticed Ruby walking in a strange fashion. We knew something was very wrong so we took her to the vet who diagnosed a detached retina in her one working eye. We were advised to take her to see an eye specialist in Penrith, Cumbria who confirmed the diagnosis, which he said had been caused by a trauma to the head – either from the badger baiting incident, or by being struck with a blunt object causing the eye to ‘pop’ and the retina to become detached. The eye had to be removed and Ruby was now totally blind.
We did a lot of research into how best we could help Ruby adapt to her lack of sight. We found that clapping hands, so she could hear where we were; speaking her name before stroking her or picking her up; and putting different textures of mats on the floor, inside and outside doors, all helped her to find her way around her now dark world. Two years later, Ruby needed to have the remaining eye removed; the one blinded by glaucoma, due to non-treatment of her condition. She now had no eyes at all.
Both operations required a lot of nursing but the nights spent holding her in my arms as she whimpered and cried, soothing her and rocking her, were worth it in the end. The pain was gone and she now lives a happy life and will never know fear and pain again.
Ruby has been a member of our family now for five years and every morning she wakes up with a wagging tail and lots of excited barking, as she knows that life is good and every day brings nice things! She is one of the most gentle, good natured dogs we have ever had the pleasure of knowing; her harsh, cruel past has not made her vicious, nasty or unpredictable. The feel of a loving hand and a patient, understanding home brought out her true nature. She is fun loving, happy and just loves life.
We recently had the good fortune to see a person, who we believe was her previous owner, sent to prison for the barbaric act of badger baiting with dogs and this person was also banned from owning any animal for ten years. It is little comfort to the animals that have suffered at the hands of this cruel excuse for a human being, and I often wonder what became of the poor, innocent badger that was involved in the incident with Ruby.
To sum up Ruby, affectionately known as “The Bear”, I say she has the courage of a lion, the face of a teddy bear and a heart of pure gold. We quite simply adore her and we are very proud of how brave she has been and continues to be. She is a survivor and living proof that these dogs, given the chance, can go on to make the most wonderful family pets and see a side of life they have never experienced before.
The Badger Trust has been granted permission by a judge for a Judicial Review challenge in the High Court against the DEFRA Secretary of State Owen Paterson and Natural England. The test case focuses on the Government’s highly controversial badger cull policy.
The Judicial Review will argue that Owen Paterson and Natural England have failed to put in place any Independent Expert Panel for the planned culling of badgers in Gloucestershire and Somerset in 2014. The Trust contends such a Panel is needed to oversee the design of data collection, its analysis and interpretation. Without this, there can be no proper assessment of the safety, effectiveness and humaneness of the culling operation, something that would be needed before any lawful decision to continue with further culls around the country.
The Badger Trust legal challenge has received strong support from some members of the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) set up by the Government to monitor the safety, effectiveness and humaneness of the badger culls carried out in 2013.
Commenting on the Judicial Review challenge, Ranald Munro, Chairman of the IEP said
“The Independent Expert Panel’s report states clearly the rationale for ensuring that independent monitoring and the use of the statistically robust sample sizes and analytical methods, as used in the 2013 culls, are followed in further culling exercises. If this scientific advice is ignored then the data collected during the proposed 2014 culls will be insufficiently reliable for assessment of humaneness and effectiveness. This means that farmers, veterinarians and scientists intimately involved in controlling bovine TB will be denied the information necessary to allow them to assess whether the IEP’s recommended changes to the culling process have corrected the failings identified by the pilot culls.”
Dominic Dyer CEO of the Badger Trust and Policy Advisor at Care for the Wild welcomed the judge’s decision to grant permission for the Judicial Review challenge saying
“Owen Paterson has done all he can to prevent this Judicial Review case going to the High Court and he has failed. His refusal to put in place any independent monitoring of the badger culls due to take place in Gloucestershire and Somerset over the next few months against the advice of the Independent Expert Panel he set up is a national disgrace.
“The caring compassionate British public will not remain silent, whilst poorly trained NFU contract gunmen move through our countryside at night shooting badgers with rifles and shotguns without any independent monitoring or scrutiny. We know from last year’s culls that many badgers were wounded and suffered long painful deaths in a disastrous operation, which proved a complete and utter failure on scientific, economic and humaneness grounds.
“I am very pleased to see that we have strong support from some members of the Independent Expert Panel and I look forward to joining Professor Tim Coulson in Parliament on Monday 7 July, when we will brief MP’s from all parties on why we believe they should also give their support to the Badger Trust legal challenge.
“I also call again on the British Veterinary Association to show animal welfare and humaneness is their number one priority by supporting the Badger Trust in the High Court.”
Dominic Dyer CEO Badger Trust Tel: 07876 596233
Jack Reedy Badger Trust Tel: 07751 731107 or 01564 783129
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