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Diary Archives

badger vaccination, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust 2015badger vaccination, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust 2015

Check back on previous diary entries from our badger vaccinator.

August 2014

With the squirrels eating everything in sight up at the Buxton site, we thought we had learnt our lesson with other animals eating the peanuts, which are for the badgers only, but to our horror at New Mills we saw something else on film.!

On Day 2 of pre baiting we put the cameras up and got some great footage of the five badgers living in a sett in a lady's garden.
Sharon had phoned us when she had heard we were vaccinating badgers in the area.
We arranged for the sett to be done on her return from holiday as she wanted to see the vaccination for herself. Sharon fed the badgers every night so pre baiting was very easy as the badgers were not only used to peanuts but they didn't mind human activity.

The traps were put in place on the Wednesday and everything was going to plan, until I got the camera home and to my horror saw what looked like a lion on the lawn next to one of the traps where the peanuts were under the stone! It was 1am and then it came back at 3am.

I had to watch it four times with John the volunteer before we could decide that it was in fact a dog - very large and using the lawn in one place as the toilet.

We couldn't set traps with a dog running loose and aggravating the badgers. On one part of the footage the dog was growling at the badgers as they ran for cover!

I printed a picture of the offending hound and set off to Sharon's to see if we could find the owner. She had never seen the dog before and had also looked at the footage.

I decided to try the local pub first at the bottom of her drive – it’s a small place with some houses and a pub so I was sure the landlord would know who it belonged to.

As I pulled up outside, I couldn't believe it, the hound was there, tied up to the door way of the house next door to the pub.

With the picture in hand I approached. The dog started to growl at me at this point, so I stayed back and shouted "hello". A very nice man came to the front door and I explained who and what I was doing there. He was over the moon we were vaccinating the badgers, and he was so embarrassed when I asked him, "Do you recognise this dog?" I explained what we were trying to do and how ‘Rodger’ the dog’s nightly visits were hampering our progress – he was happy to help by keeping Rodger in at night.

Cameras stayed up and with no more visits from Rodger we continued and successfully vaccinated all of the badgers, which where very calm and behaved really well. Job well done!




May 2014

This has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done – although I wasn’t saying that half-way through!

It started at Hartington Meadows Nature Reserve from 6th May when some of the volunteers joined me for 12 days at Camp Badger. The sun was shining and things were looking good for our first round of vaccinations.

Traps were dug in by our excellent team of volunteers from the three Derbyshire badger groups, which I trained in March.

The weather didn't do what it said on the weather site (funny that, I thought they were always right) - it rained at night when it said it was going to rain in the day!
That stopped things for two days as the 40 mile per hour winds that went with it nearly blew us over! Nevertheless we sat and watched the badger sett in the pouring rain until, freezing, we were sent on our way.

To top things off one of my volunteers who I call ‘Dad’ (due to the similarity in tummies) decided to have a ‘funny turn’ - one that didn't get me laughing as an ex-nurse. I ended up calling an ambulance and 35 minutes later off went ‘Dad’ to Macclesfield Hospital. He’s fine now and back at home resting.

The week continued and so did the fun. Hartington Hall had a firework display on the Saturday night which lit up the sky for 40 minutes. My badgers didn't like that one bit and so didn't come out to play that night until after 2.30am. We had put cameras out on site by this time, just to see what was going on and to get numbers of badgers which for me is very helpful. One sett had four badgers so after my week of fun I decided to call them The Hartington Four, as by this time they and other things were causing me nothing but trouble.

Not ones to give up, volunteer Liz and I made the decision to move the dates back and carry on. After setting the traps, we had an early night, in bed at 9pm - only to be woken at 2am by two boy racers in two cars hurtling around the Wildlife Trust site as fast as they could! I thought I was at Donington for a split second, then realised where I was. Fortunately Derbyshire police had given us a unique incident number to ring, which we did, a lovely lady answered and asked if we needed assistance. Assistance! A straitjacket was what I needed by now!
She asked if I could get a registration number, so off I went in my best PJs in the dark with my torch to see what I could do – but they were going so fast that you couldn't even see what make of car they were in.
This continued until 3.30am. Liz was in hysterics by now, as I thought I would hide in the grass on the other side desperate to get at least one number. Don't know why I bothered as no one came to assist anyway.
Needless to say we stayed up as the alarm was set for 3.45am.
Our first badger was a cub and that made up for the night’s shenanigans. We were so made up that we had finally got to do what we had come for, Liz and I ended up in tears.!

I know what you’re all thinking - “Nothing else can go wrong" - but the fun didn't end there. The donkey who had kept Liz and me company in the field next to Camp Badger had been quiet all week but on the last three nights thought he would become our alarm clock, and hee-hawed from 2am. The donkey alarm - you can’t beat it.!

David my partner had joined us for the last night (as he had forgotten what I looked like), as did one of the volunteers. We all headed off down to the signal box, which was our meeting point at 4am. Still dark, David (ex police man of 32 years) said, “I’ve just seen someone over there," and headed off to the small brick building to the side of the reserve.

I could hear him talking to someone which we thought strange at that time of day, when out from the dark appeared a small chubby man with a head torch on, in what looked like a wetsuit. "What are you lot doing here?" he asked. None of us said a word - we just burst out laughing.

Shouting at David that he was an "ex para," and “could we leave him alone,” he went back to his den were he had been sleeping the night. We went off to vaccinate our badgers.

 He stayed the whole time we were there, even after we had moved all the traps, and watched us in wonder, mumbling all the time to himself whilst getting his portable toilet and bike ready for the next stage of his trip. I was thinking all the time, "You couldn't write this stuff".

I’ll never forget my time at Hartington vaccinating badgers, and that's why I thought I’d share the events with you!