Sadly, our busy roads are a major hazard to many kinds of wildlife and hardly a day passes without seeing a mass of feathers or something now hard to identify, but brown and furry, lying dead by the roadside. Dead badgers are however relatively easy to spot and identify by their large size, grey body and black and white head markings. Unfortunately, road deaths are now probably the major cause of mortality amongst adult badgers in Oxfordshire.
With their largely nocturnal habits, spotting a live badger is often quite a rare occurrence, however, even a dead badger can provide us with useful information, since where there’s a road kill there’s most probably other badgers living in the vicinity, and perhaps even a sett nearby. So to give us a picture of where the badgers are in Oxfordshire, we really welcome any reports you can send us at OBG of badger road kills you spot anywhere within the county. The more spotters send in their observations the more we get a more accurate and reliable idea of badger distribution, and where to go looking for active setts. Reports can also help identify casualty black spots where badgers are having particular problems surviving particular road crossings. Remedial actions can include warning signs for motorists or ideally ensuring a culvert or underpass is provided and kept clear for badger movements.
Not much needs to be reported, just the date of your observation, the casualty’s location and any extra comments about the size (e.g. cub or large adult) or unusual appearance of the badger that you might like to add. For location, please give a description of the road, for example “A415 at Culham, one mile west of the station”. A National Grid Reference would be absolutely ideal, the bottom right hand corner of any Ordnance Survey Map shows you how to work this out. Otherwise, if you are able to stop by the casualty, a smart phone or similar device can give you a GPS Lat and Long instead.
Provided it’s safe to stop and you have the time to spare, an extra service you could provide would be to take a closer look at the badger. During the months of December through June there is a risk that orphaned cubs might be nearby. A lactating sow is easy to identify. You can also to check that it is an authentic road casualty. It’s unfortunately not unknown for some landowners to shoot badgers then dump them by a roadside to look like a road kill! A sometime dead animal isn’t the most pleasant thing to handle, but if you have a pair of gloves, dragging the badger away from the roadside and into long grass or bushes where it can’t be seen will also avoid potential badger-baiters from spotting that the area contains badgers and their setts. However, your own safety must always remain paramount, so only consider stopping or moving the badger if it’s safe to do so. A badger on the central reservation of the A34 is definitely best left to rest in peace!
So please, help us map the badgers by sending us your reports – giving date, location (ideally as a grid reference) and any other comments. If you suspect a wildlife crime then report the incident to the police and OBG as soon as possible. If you think cubs may be at risk contact OBG at once.