Tag Archives: uk wildlife

Adopt a Sett

I’m always hearing about crimes against badgers, especially at badger setts. But in the last few weeks I’ve heard about more then usual, one of which was in my local area.

A badger sett is what a badger calls home. It is usually situated in or near small clearings in woodland. A simple sett is made up of a single tunnel, with a sleeping chamber at the end. However, most setts have several entrance holes, and lots of tunnels which link up with each other. The tunnels also link up with sleeping and nursery chambers.

There are numerous horrific crimes which people commit against badgers. For centuries badgers have been victims of persecution by man, and in the old days, badger baiting was a popular spectator sport. It was made illegal in 1835, but never completely died out and has become more common in the last 20 years. Badger diggers use dogs and digging equipment to take badgers from their setts. The captured badgers are then attacked by dogs for sport, whilst the spectators gamble on the performance of the dogs. Badger baiting is extremely cruel and the badgers suffer severe injuries before they are killed. The dogs are often badly injured as well.

It is estimated that 10,000 badgers are killed in this way every year.

Along with these disgusting offences against badgers, they are also victims of crimes such as disturbance, damage and destruction of their setts. A recent example of destruction and damage at a badgers sett was at Stevenage, Hertfordshire. The sett was bricked in and scorched which prevented the badgers getting out to find food and would of caused unnecessary suffering. Another example of a horrible act of cruelty against a badger was at a sett not far from where I live. A snare was set up on a badger sett. One of the badgers got caught in the snare and slowly strangled to death as it tried to escape. These are just two examples of sick acts of cruelty against badgers.

Adopting a sett

By adopting a local sett or a sett on your local patch, where you might go and watch badgers there regularly, you can keep an eye on the sett. What I mean by this is making sure there hasn’t been any recent disturbance or there isn’t anyone about that looks suspicious. Now, this isn’t a formal thing. It’s just doing something of your own back to look out for badgers and help prevent crimes against them. I have my own example of this as last year I went to a sett that I set my camera up at regularly and I noticed that some of the wholes had been filled in, trees had been cut back by the sett and overall, the sett had been disturbed. Due to this I got in touch with my local wildlife crime officer and the Staffordshire Badger Group. Even though though this was not as serious as something as terrible as badger baiting etc, it was still important to have it dealt with in case the problem progressed. Fortunately it was dealt with.

Of course badgers aren’t the only species that suffer from such horrible acts of cruelty.

I’m also very much looking forward to a Wildlife Crime conference that I am going to on Saturday, it’s run by BAWC (Birders Against Wildlife Crime) and should be a very interesting day!

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Mammals go exploring!

Once a month I go to a local Wildlife Watch meeting at the National Memorial Arboretum. As I’m quite a bit older then the other kids I act more as a leader within the group. Yesterdays session was about all about various mammals which are present at the Arboretum. A local mammal expert, Derek Crawley, set 39 traps out the night before then we went to collect them during the session and to see what mammals had been trapped over night.

Yesterday the trapping was to show the children a close up of different species but this method is often used to monitor the numbers of various mammals. The traps were set up at roughly ten feet apart beneath an unused grassy area. When we found a trap which was closed we opened it up to see what had been caught. We then examined the mammal, looked to see if it was male or female then let it go. It was brilliant to see the species close up. We managed to catch seven wood mice, a bank vole and a field vole. Here are some photos I took.

Something else I found out yesterday was the mammal tracking phone app. This is to record different mammals in the UK so more can be found out about whereabouts they are and numbers. You can follow this link to download the app for your apple or android phone – http://www.brc.ac.uk/mammal_tracker/

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IMGP7045A wood mice that escaped down a sleeve!

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IMGP7059The children having a real hands on experience with one of the voles that was caught.

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IMGP7034Another escapee!

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Is it a fox? No it’s a mouse!

On Sunday night I decided to set my trail camera up around a local nature reserve in the hope of recording foxes. I know there are foxes in the area as I’ve seen and heard them here in the past, so I set my trail camera up and put some dry dog food down. This was the second time in the last few days I’d set it in this area but the first time I had no luck. When I returned the next morning all the food had gone and as soon as I got there my dog, Max, started to roll around in the area in front of the camera so I was pretty certain foxes had been there through the night. But when I looked at what I had recorded I hadn’t recorded anything but a mouse! I’m not sure If it’s a field or wood mouse as the quality isn’t very good and he’s so small. To have not recorded foxes I think my camera had obviously stopped working at some point in the night but I’ll be back soon for some fox footage!

Here’s some of the videos I got of the mouse:

Three reasons for dummies why the badger cull won’t work.

There are many different reasons why culling the badgers by shooting them or gassing them won’t control or stop the spread of bTB (Bovine Tuberculosis) in cattle. As a young wildlife enthusiast I thought I’d do a blog post explaining three different reasons why, in my opninion, culling badgers won’t work. I want the cull to be taken no further and badgers to stop being killed for no reason. I know there is a problem with bTB in cattle but killing badgers is far from stopping this. In my opinion, shared by many others and supported by scientific evidence, vaccinating badgers will work much better and be much better for badgers as a species. Very often I hear people saying that we are against the cull because it’s killing animals; the culls the only answer; it will help other species and many other reasons which are not correct. The people making these points obviously have no knowledge of the cull, badgers or the natural world whatsoever. Here is a list of some of the main reasons into why the cull won’t work

  1. The first and main reason why the cull will not work is because of something called the ‘perturbation effect’. Badgers live in social groups of around four to seven animals and have defined territorial boundaries. Culling the badgers will interrupt these social groups which increases the risk of disease.

“Culling disrupts the organisation of these social groups, increasing the risks of disease transmission”

Here is a diagram illustration how the perturbation effect doesn’t work and only makes the spread of bTB worse.

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2. The contact between cattle and badgers is actually very rare and the problem of bTB spreading isn’t just from badger to cattle but an infected cow passing it on to another. Cattle are more likely to get the disease then pass it onto other cattle. According to computer modeling studies, herd-to-herd transmission of bovine TB in cattle accounts for 94% of cases. Also scientific evidence from the randomized badger culling trials found around 6% of infected cattle catch TB directly from badgers.

3. Badgers aren’t the only species that carry the disease, here is a list of others:

Deer = 36% positive (including farmed, wild and park deer)

Cat = 25% positive

Dog = 27% positive

Pig = 19% positive

Alpaca = 56% positive

Sheep = 44% positive

Therefore to control it by culling animals we wouldn’t just have to kill badgers, but other UK species. However, we don’t know what individuals within a species carry the disease and we could be culling any animal which doesn’t carry bovine TB.

To help our badgers in the UK there are many different ways, for example you can donate money into the vaccination programs, support the different charities opposing the cull, sign petitions against it and much more!

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