Somerset Badger Group
November 2019
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Welcome

Dear  <<First Name>>,

Welcome to the latest edition of the Newsletter which I hope you will find interesting and informative. 

The Badger Cull for the majority of areas has finished for another year and we await with much sadness and concern for the confirmed number of badgers killed unnecessarily.  Sadly the Supplementary Culls in West Somerset, West Gloucestershire and an area in Dorset will still be carrying on until the end of January 2020.

As you know Paul Kite is standing down as Membership Secretary at the end of the year and I wanted to say a big thank you to him for all his hard work.  I am delighted to say that Cheryl Grimes has agreed to take on the role and will also be collating our group's newsletters which will be a huge help.

The year is almost at an end and has been another busy and challenging one for our group.  Our next Member's meeting on Wednesday 18th December will be the last one for 2019 and we would like it to have a Christmas feel to it and will include a round-up of the year's achievements and challenges and hopefully some member participation. 

I do hope you will come and join in.

Very Best Wishes,
Vanessa Mason
Chair

Helpline calls analysis as at 22 November 2019

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

In just a few weeks’ time Christmas will be upon us.  But before we get there, we’ll spend a lot of time writing cards.

So why not send cards that will help save badgers at the same time?

This year, ‘Spot the Badger’ has designed Somerset Against The Badger Cull’s annual card.  The image depicts the countryside and animals of Somerset and a familiar landmark!

The A5 size cards are blank inside so ideal for using as greeting cards and notelets at any time of the year.  You can buy these through SABC’s web shop.

If you want a more traditional Christmas card, Nottinghamshire Badger Group has just what you need.

The bonus with their A6 sized cards is that you can choose which group you’d like to receive the proceeds.

To buy a pack, visit Town and Country Badgers.  But be quick.  These are likely to be very popular!

Badger setts 'flattened' with machinery as reports of attacks in Somerset rise

The cull may be over but that doesn’t mean that badgers are safe.  Every year, the number of reports of badger persecution rises during the cull.  

We've seen snares set for badgers, and found setts deliberately destroyed with heavy machinery
Somerset Badger Group has been working closely with the police's rural and wildlife crime team, as well as the special operations unit at the RSPCA to tackle this problem. 

Earlier this month Somerset Live covered this.  Click here to read the article.

Straight from the badgers' mouth - video

Percy Q'Ted is fed up with illegal badger persecution.  Local badger groups have noticed over the years that this spikes during the cull period.

Percy can't vote but he has written to his local MP ahead of the December 2019 General Election.  He has a great many friends who can vote for him.

Listen to Percy's letter in his own words.  Yes Percy can talk!
Listen to Percy's letter to his local MP, in his own words

Encounters with Badgers by April Dunnett

Part 2 of ENCOUNTERS WITH BADGERS - Who scared whom? 
 
If you missed part 1 you can read it in the October newsletter.
My first encounter with live badgers came about when we moved into a bungalow with a small holding on a hillside above the Bride Valley in Dorset.  We soon got to know our neighbours and a footpath was soon worn across the top of our field between our gardens.  When the neighbours got to know and trust us, they invited us to come and see their badgers being fed, on the gorsy hillside above their bungalow. 
We were all agog.  We duly trooped one summer evening up that hillside through above head height gorse, to a little grassy clearing, where we were sat down on a bench and advised to sit very still and silent, cameras at the ready. 

Our neighbours then threw round the clearing little bits of meat from their local butcher, chopped up apples and peanuts, scattering some around our feet.  They then BANGED the steel bowl loudly against a small tree trunk, and came to join us on the backless bench.
 
Moments later there was a sound like a great herd of horses thundering towards us down the hill -  a posse of badgers burst into the clearing and crashed into the food.  There was a lot of “I’ve got my head attached to THIS feeding area – It’s MINE! so I’ll bash you out of the way with my bottom!”  During this melee, a half-grown fox cub, rather thin, decided to share in the feast.  Dodging the badgers, he picked up first one bit of meat, then another, until his mouth was so full that the first pieces were falling out, so he withdrew into the bushes to eat in private, or stash away for later.
 
Camera shutters in those days were noisy so the moment we took a picture, the badgers scattered – but they didn’t stay away for more than a few seconds.  I had set up a tripod with flash, and even that did not deter them for long.
 
When the neighbours went on holiday, they entrusted us with feeding the badgers – one time I had a friend from Australia visiting – so I invited her to come over and help feed them.  As we walked up the hillside I whispered to her to be very quiet, so we would not scare the badgers.  Hardly were the words out of my mouth, when a badger exploded from a bush and ran between her legs – she let out a muffled scream – and when we both recovered, she whispered indignantly back, “Who was supposed not to scare whom?”

Huge reservoir of undetected bTB infection found

The scale of undetected bovine TB (bTB) has been revealed through a new analysis of official data from Defra.

It shows that tens of thousands of cattle could be acting as a reservoir for bTB in England.

Data obtained from Defra via a parliamentary question show that some 5000 additional infected cattle were identified (from 249 confirmed herd breakdowns) after interferon gamma testing was rolled out across some of the high-risk area (HRA) in England last year. These were infected cattle that were missed by the standard bTB skin test.  Read the full article.

Brian May’s Gatcombe Farm project secures TB-free status - includes video

A new approach to disease control on a dairy farm in Devon – taking out infective cows and minimising exposure to slurry – has seen the herd attain TB-free status after six years of persistent breakdowns.

The farm in question is Gatcombe Farm, run by Robert and Thomas Reed.

They have been involved in a five-year project overseen by Dick Sibley of West Ridge Veterinary Practice, Tiverton, in partnership with Queen guitarist and animal rights supporter Brian May.  Read the full article and watch the video.

Caring for British Wildlife Conference - 29 February and 1 March 2020

Making a difference in British wildlife conservation, rehabilitation and release

Following the success of its inaugural conference in 2019, Secret World has arranged a second for next year.

With a theme of making a difference, the conference will focus on ways that individuals can have a positive impact on wildlife, both in the wild and when admitted for treatment, rehabilitation and release.  

The focus for the Saturday is conservation, and wildlife rehabilitation on the Sunday.

With popular expert speakers on both days, the conference is set to be interesting and informative for all delegates.

If you’re quick, you’ll be able to secure your attendance at the early bird rate of £70 per day or £120 for both days as long as you book by 30 November.  The rate increases to £80 per day or £150 for both days from 1 December.

Click here for full details.

Man shot 28 badgers and kept them in freezer near Bodmin


In Year 1 of the badger cull (2013), random testing of badger carcasses revealed some had been frozen.

Could the reason for this now be clear?  This increases our concern that badgers may have been killed outside the cull period, and possibly even outside the cull zones, and submitted for payment as part of the cull.

With testing withdrawn in Year 2, cull operatives involved in this illegal activity had little chance of being caught.

But earlier this month, Scott Milne from Helland near Bodmin, admitted killing 28 badgers and possessing 37. He had frozen the bodies intending to recieve payment next year by claiming he had killed them as part of the licenced cull.

Not only is killing badgers illegal, Mr Milne was also intending to commit fraud by obtaining payment under false pretences.

Without more stringent random testing, it will be impossible to know if this is being repeated in other areas.  Read the full story here.

Badger apocalypse hell – part 2

Be safe badger, be safe!

If you missed Part 1, you can read it here.

One, two, three, four, five, six – six shots. I feel the same sickness I felt a year ago rise in my throat. It’s them, I know it!

I check the clock – 5:40 AM. Darkness is just lifting her black veil. In my mind’s eye, I see an ancient clan returning to their sett after a night’s worming straying into the sights of the guns. The dominant boar watches his clan die. All mother brock knows and lives for now lies scattered on the ground. The surprise, the shock, as they helplessly fight for their lives, while I lie safely in my bed.

I whisper my sorrow for these ancient creatures and ask for their forgiveness for the actions of mankind. The Cull, it’s here, so close this time! The pain, the grief, the injustice of it all.  Read the full article here.

Groups and sites we like!

We're sure you will too so why not check them out?

Devon Badger Group
Secret World Wildlife Rescue
Wildlife+Badger Care
Badger Trust
Team Badger
 
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