Binfield Badger GroupProtecting Badgers in Berkshire
Charity number: 1075886
What to do if you find an injured badger, witness persecution, or suspect poisoning.
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RTAs account for the vast majority of injured badgers that people find, and claim the lives of thousands of badgers every year. Most are killed immediately but others are left injured and may recover if treated promptly.
Next time you spot the all too familiar sight of a badger lying motionless in the road which is not obviously dead, please check it. If it is alive, you may be able to help save its life or least minimise its suffering. The following guidelines should help.
1: BE PREPARED !
Make a copy of this information sheet and keep it with you in your glove compartment, so that it is always at hand.
Keep a notepad and pen in your glove compartment and keep the following in the boot of your car:
· An old blanket or coat
· A large plastic sheet
· A stout stick / hammer handle / cut down wooden broom handle
· A torch, and / or even better, a multi-purpose lantern featuring a flashing orange / red warning light. (Check the torch at intervals and change or re-charge the batteries as necessary)
· A pair of rubber gardening gloves (NB - these are for handling the badger if it turns out to be dead; trying to handle a live badger while wearing gloves is not recommended, (a) because they will make handling the animal more difficult and increase the risk of your being bitten, and (b) because they will provide no protection whatsoever if the badger does decide to bite you !)
2: EXAMINING THE ROAD CASUALTY.
Remember that your safety and the safety of other road users comes first; park sensibly with your hazard warning lights on if appropriate, and do not endanger yourself or others. If possible and if it is safe to do so, park close to the badger so that your car protects it from being hit by oncoming traffic. If it is dark, use your torch so that you can see and be seen, and if you have a flashing emergency light, place this between the badger and oncoming traffic (if you have not been able to park in this position). Nobody, least of all the badger, will benefit from further accidents.
The first thing you need to determine is whether the animal is dead or alive- this is not always obvious! If the badger is lying motionless and you are not sure whether or not it is dead, stroke the back of its neck with your stick. If it is alive and conscious, it will normally react to this by moving - possibly by biting the stick! If there is no reaction, then check for breathing by feeling the chest for movements associated with breathing.
IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO STOP - because you are on a busy road, or you are late for work etc - try to judge the animal's status as you go by (or if you have a passenger, get them to do so), and make a mental note of exactly where the RTA victim is (measure the distance to the next road junction with your milometer). Note this information in your notebook as soon as you are able to stop (or again, get your passenger to do so), and call for help as soon as possible after that.
3: IF THE BADGER IS STILL ALIVE ...
It is not possible to give a set of step-by-step instructions that you can follow in every situation. The following guidelines are designed to help, but the precise course of action to take will depend on the circumstances.
Again, safety first. Badgers have sharp teeth and powerful jaws and can inflict serious injuries with them. If you get hurt, this will not help you or the badger.
The best course of action to take will vary depending on the condition of the animal, where it is situated and where the nearest telephone is located. (A mobile phone obviously makes life a lot less complicated!) The most important thing is to try to protect the badger from further stress or injury, to stop it trying to move away if it is mobile despite its injuries, and to get expert help to the badger (or vice-versa) as soon as possible.
If the animal is lying in the road and is likely to be struck again, try to prevent this. If someone can stay with the badger while help is summoned, it may be best to leave it in the road with your flashing warning light between it and oncoming traffic and with the person who is staying with the badger standing on the verge. If this is not possible because you are on your own or it is clearly too dangerous, the animal should if possible be moved. If the badger is unconscious, lift the animal by taking hold of it by the loose skin at the scruff of the neck and the rump (see illustration) and move it directly to the verge, or place it on an old blanket, coat or plastic sheet and then lift this to move the badger without having to handle it further. Alternatively the badger can be rolled onto the blanket / coat / sheet. The animal should not be lifted by the tail alone.
If the badger is conscious and likely to bite, it is probably best left where it is. If you feel that you really must move it, put your stick / hammer handle / etc near its mouth and get it to bite that before carrying out either of the above operations. Act quickly but firmly, any wavering will give the animal the chance to find some part of your anatomy with its teeth, and if it does so you will not forget the experience!
Cover the badger with an old blanket or coat; this will keep the animal warm, which is important as it will be suffering from shock. This action should also keep the badger calm, which is just as important as this will reduce stress and make the animal much less likely to try to struggle or get away.
Get to the nearest telephone and ring one of the emergency contact numbers at the bottom of this page as soon as possible. Tell the person you speak to exactly where the casualty is and describe its condition. If you have a passenger, leave them to watch over the badger while you do this.
If possible, go back to the casualty and keep an eye on it until help arrives.
If there is no-one who can tend to the animal immediately, place it in an empty plastic dustbin, an old tea chest or some other robust container with some bedding (hay, straw or the old blanket / coat) and keep it warm, dark, and away from noise and dogs, until veterinary help is available.
It is important that you make a note of exactly where the badger was found, in order that it can be released at the precise spot where it was picked up if / when it recovers and is able to return to the wild. The importance of this cannot be underestimated. It may be helpful to mark the spot in some way while you are at the scene - perhaps by spraying an X on the road with a spray can of paint (another item for the boot of the car!)
4: IF THE BADGER IS DEAD
If the animal is dead, you can pass on useful information which will help the Badger Group - and hence the badgers.
RTAs are not the only way in which badgers end up injured and in need of attention. Badgers will occasionally inflict severe wounds on each other, especially boars engaged in territorial battles. The badgers that lose such fights sometimes end up taking refuge in some strange places. Even perfectly healthy badgers seem to have a talent for getting themselves into awkward situations.
Rescuers have been called out to deal with badgers found in locations including a barn, a lambing pen, and in the 6 foot deep concrete overflow channel of a reservoir - there were 2 badgers in the latter! Elsewhere, others have found badgers in swimming pools (empty and full), down manholes, in a public loo, and on the first floor of a police station, among other places.
Healthy badgers which have simply got themselves stuck somewhere just need to be released, or be given a means of escaping by themselves; the latter is preferable as it involves less stress for the badger. A badger that has fallen into an empty swimming pool for example, can usually extricate itself if a long plank of wood or a ladder is propped up against one side of the pool (at one corner of the pool, so that the entire length of the plank / ladder touches the side of the pool) and left overnight. Whatever the situation, it is best if you contact someone listed in the emergency numbers section at the bottom of this page, so that they can assess the badger's condition and take appropriate action.
Injured badgers which have 'holed up' in a barn or some such place may well need treatment before they can be released, and will need to be captured so that treatment can be administered. This obviously involves risks for the would-be rescuer and as with RTA victims you are strongly advised to call out someone from the emergency numbers section to deal with the badger.
Snares are usually set to catch rabbits or foxes, but they are indiscriminate killers and if they are placed near badger setts or on badger runs, badgers will get caught in them.
Badgers that get caught in snares can cause themselves terrible injuries as they try to escape, so it important that they are released from the snare as soon as possible. It must be stressed however that attempts to release badgers from snares involve great danger to both the badger and the rescuer. Snared badgers can inflict severe injuries on anyone trying to release them, and rescue attempts can also exacerbate the badger's injuries. You are therefore advised NOT to try to release a snared badger yourself, but to get help from someone listed in the emergency numbers section who has rescue equipment, as soon as possible. As with road casualty badgers, you should advise the person you contact exactly where the badger can be found and what condition it is in, and if possible you should arrange to meet them at a convenient and easy-to-find spot nearby and take them to the badger. If you can cover the animal with an old coat or blanket in the meantime, this may calm the animal and prevent it from making further attempts to escape and thus injure itself further.
Under no circumstances should a snared badger be released by cutting the wire between the noose and the stake, fence or tree to which it is attached, as the badger will then make off with the noose still attached and will suffer a lingering, painful death. The noose itself must be cut, and if it has cut deeply into the badger the animal may need to be put under general anaesthetic by a vet before it is removed. The injuries caused by the snare will then need veterinary treatment. Even if the snare does not appear to have caused any damage, the badger should ideally be kept under observation for a period of time after the removal of the noose, as snares often cause internal injuries which may not be immediately apparent.
(Reproduced from a fact sheet written by Steve Jackson, March 1995)
1. OBSERVE AND MAKE NOTES.
If you do see people acting suspiciously in the vicinity of a badger sett, then try not to alert them to your presence. If possible, remain out of sight and make notes of the following:
If you have a camera or camcorder, take photographs / film if possible (Watch out though if conditions are less than sunny and you have a camera with an automatic flash!)
2. LEAVE WITHOUT APPROACHING OR ALERTING THE SUSPECTS.
If the people have already seen you, then try not to panic; don't let them know that you think there is anything wrong. Walk past at a safe distance; if you have binoculars you could pretend that you are bird watching. If you feel confident enough say good morning / afternoon as you go past. Some have tried "Lost your dog have you?", but it's probably best not to engage in conversation! Remember that badger diggers and people who persecute badgers in other ways are unpleasant and potentially violent people, they have been known to threaten those who discover them with their spades and even with knives, or sawn-off shotguns. So don't approach them; move away as quickly as you can without arousing suspicion, all the time making mental notes of the above-mentioned items so that as soon as you are out of sight you can write the details down in your notebook.
3. CALL THE POLICE.
Once you have left the scene, make a note of any vehicles near the site if you did not do so on your approach (for each vehicle, note the make, model, registration number, colour, any distinctive features) Then call the police as soon as you can. If you know your local officer, call them; otherwise dial 999 and ask for immediate response. Say exactly what is going on and give clear instructions on how to get to the site - the officer(s) attending may not know the location. Ideally, arrange to meet them at a convenient place nearby so that can personally show the officer the site or explain how to get there.
Getting the police to the scene to try to catch the suspects in the act is the most important thing, but if you have time, try also to get hold of the RSPCA.
If you go to the sett with the police, make full notes of the evidence of interference and full notes of any evidence of badger activity. Show all this evidence to the police officer(s) and get them to record the evidence in their notebooks too. Otherwise, return to the sett as soon as possible after the event to record the details, preferably with a police officer.
If your efforts do result in people being caught illegally interfering with the sett, or persecuting the badgers, then the information which you will have recorded about the use of the sett by the badgers at the time when it was attacked and on any previous visits, will be vital evidence when the culprits are prosecuted.
(Reproduced from a Fact Sheet written by Steve Jackson, March 1996)
Call 0800 321600
If you suspect:
• animals may have been poisoned by pesticides;
• there has been a spillage of pesticides;
• there has been use of poisonous baits;
Information you should provide:
• the location of the incident;
• the number and type of casualties or suspected baits;
• why you believe pesticides are involved;
• your name and a daytime telephone number.