Badgers in Focus

The word Badger is said to derive from the French word Becheur meaning digger, badgers have been present in the British Isles for at least 300,000- 400,000 million years.

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Badgers live in complex underground burrow systems called sets, and can have a group of 6 - 10 badgers living in it, and they are nocturnal emerging from their setts soon after dusk, sniffing the air for danger before going about their activities, they are very clean animals and always deposit their droppings in shallow pits some distance from the sett.

But this much loved animal gets persecuted from people, that stems back to the 70 s when some badgers were found to be infected with Tb , and people thought that this could be passed on to cattle and to combat this they starting gassing setts to keep the population of badgers down.

Even though there is no hard evidence that this is true, there is still culling going on in some counties in England in 2016.Road traffic is another problem for these creatures with as much as 40, 000 being killed every year, cause badgers follow the same paths, so if a road is built near one they just carry on as normal, but on some new roads they build badger tunnels underneath.

So imagine my delight when I was told where there was sett and a good chance to see some of them up close and personal, we drove up and arrived and put out some peanuts near where I thought they might come out.

After sitting for about an hour, we could see something moving about in the gorse and then slowly we could see the familiar black and white stripes appearing over the ridge and my heart skipped a beat and I started snapping away, it looked up and I stopped and waited a few minutes to it got used to me and then took more pics, I couldn't believe how big it actually was. another smaller one appeared further down the gorse from a different hole and came out in to the open and was even closer, wow I was hooked, we saw them for about 20 minutes.

Over the next few months I visited them on several occasions. It is such a buzz when you see a head popping out of the sett, especially when it is one of the little cubs who are still quite shy and not as bold as the older ones. When you see them out in the open away from the sett just milling about in the grass this is joy to behold and is fascinating to watch, they just wander around sniffing the air and then noses to ground sniffing out meal worms, running around and just enjoying themselves.

Near badger setts there are often trees they mark by scratching, so to see them near this is great, especially when they decide to play peek-a-boo with you. Not many people will see these wonderful animals in their natural habitat, so it was pleasure and a privilege to see them up close and personal. My first visit in September proved to be my most fruitful and exciting yet, they were on top form, climbing up the small tree stems, coming really close for the next 2 hours and general just larking about.

The most rewarding experience photographing badgers had to be the night I finally captured on film the young cub who was very shy and rarely comes out. You can see his head sticking out but never ventures far. Tonight, was that night, I finally captured an image, it was a magical moment, as is every night I see these wonderful animals.

Dod Morrison

Photographer

November 2017

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