Having joined OBG a while before, it wasn’t until after Lockdown in 2021 that I became actively involved. Oh - the sheer joy of being outdoors, in woods and fields, on footpaths and tracks – with just a few like-minded people.
I learnt to sett survey – looking for all those amazing signs of Badgers occupying the land. I already knew about the spoil heaps of soil excavated over many nights, days, weeks and sometimes years. But what about the less obvious? That well-worn path – was a Badger a regular user? Or was it deer? Or both? The excitement of finding Badger poo – oh yes, I was quickly hooked on finding both the obvious and the more hidden signs!
Sett surveying continued and in no time at all it was May. The OBG Badger vaccination programme started, and I signed up as a Field Assistant, spending evenings working with a partner laying peanut bait to attract Badgers to carefully positioned cages. After 14 days the cages were then set to trap on the next two nights by a qualified team member. Then – up before it was light and out on site as dawn broke – quite an early hour in May! I was able to check cages to see if any Badgers had stepped in overnight – and thus I had the privilege of my first sighting of live Badgers since a Biology Field Studies course at school.
I was able to observe, from a distance, the vaccination and post vaccination fur clipping of those overnight visiting Badgers- from far enough away so as not to stress them. Then, best of all, to watch them zoom away back through the undergrowth and into their setts, bouncing, free and protected against Bovine TB.
The sixteen-day cycle continued through May to September, and I was able to enjoy some spectacular sunrises and sunsets on private land where we had permission to vaccinate. And then, the biggest privilege of all – I was given the opportunity to undertake two lots of training. The first, Module 2, qualified me to trap Badgers in cages for the purpose of vaccination. The second, Module 3 qualified me as a Lay Vaccinator, able to vaccinate Badgers against Bovine TB. As part of this training, I saw some 18 Badgers at close quarters and carried out a preliminary health check on 9 of these, vaccinated them and then further health checked them before releasing.
This was the perfect ending to my Badger Summer, and I can hardly wait for next May when the vaccination cycle will start again – this time with me as a trained vaccinator.
Are you feeling inspired? Get involved, come out sett surveying, sign up as a Field Assistant and get out there in the wild – where Badgers live! Maybe you can enjoy a Badger Summer too!
We are recruiting Field Assistants - to learn more see the job description here or
Contact Debbie White by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org