HAPPY NATIONAL BADGER DAY!
Ahhhh, the random video that left a certain generation with the inability to say ‘badger’ without wanting to repeat it and then say ‘mushroom’ or ‘snaaaaaake’ afterwards. Seriously, even if it doesn’t come out of my mouth, my brain is saying it.
I was, amusingly, introduced to that video by my GCSE RE teacher, who excitedly showed it to us one lesson after she had discovered it at lunch time. And that was that, engraved into our brains forever and ever.
I did love badgers long before that though. I don’t remember a time where I didn’t have a fondness for the stripy muzzled snufflers of the night – from wise Mr. Badger in Wind In The Willows and gruff Tommy Brock in the Peter Rabbit stories, through to the fierce, battle-worn Badger Lords of Salamandastron in the Redwall books, there were influential badgers all through my childhood.
Defend the weak, protect both young and old, never desert your friends. Give justice to all, be fearless in battle and always ready to defend the right. – The Law Of The Badger LordsLord Brocktree, Redwall series, Brian Jaques
I can remember being desperate to see one *alive* for years, after only coming across them as stuffed decorations in posh houses (where I was usually walking along glaring at the floor because I was well into my teens before I could bear to look at the glassy eyed-stares of taxidermied animals) or as bloodied piles of fur at the roadside.
Then getting a shock when I did actually see one and I realised how large they are when they’re bustling along on the hunt for dinner.
One real-life badger that I think of with an odd sort of fondness, was a victim of the road I used to live on. My Mum and I called him Sparky (because I used to name *everything*) and we would say hello to him every morning and afternoon on the walk to/from school as we walked past him where he lay under the hedge. I assume he crawled there and lay down to die after his argument with a car.
Sparky was a brilliant lesson in natural decomposition and anatomy. And while I realise it is maybe a little weird, talking to a dead badger, it was fascinating to observe over time as nature slowly reclaimed Sparky. It was also pretty smelly at times, but that was all part of the lesson.
(We also once retrieved a dead Polecat from the road right outside our house and called him Sunshine. He got wrapped up in a Bag For Life and carried through Shrewsbury Town Centre to the Shropshire Wildlife Trust HQ for them to do a postmortem for a survey. Just to add another Core Memory including roadkill to this already a bit weird blog post.)
Badgers were also an entertaining part of our Spring Group Camp with our Scout Troop this year. We went to PGL near Shrewsbury, and whilst they have always had badgers on site, apparently over the Covid lockdowns the badgers took over and now the whole site is theirs, thanks. They have to have a badger monitor patrolling the site at night, moving bins onto picnic benches so the badgers don’t raid them and being on hand when the furry overlords get extra brave and start invading tents. (No really, our first night we were woken by squeals from the neighbouring camp group because a badger had broken into a tent and was having a midnight feast on some Doritos that had been left open by the kids! And on our last night a badger attempted to join a couple of our leaders in their tent as well.)
I saw more live badgers over that long weekend than I had seen previously in my entire life. You couldn’t go for a wee after dark without almost tripping over one ambling about on the hunt for stray Haribo and invertebrates. It was glorious.
On a more serious note, our badgers are in trouble. They are being culled somewhat mercilessly under the theory of ‘reducing the spread of bTB’ despite most research pointing to the fact that the culls haven’t affected the spread in any way, and despite there being an effective vaccine that can be administered to badgers humanely to prevent them carrying and spreading the disease without decimating the population and skewing the ecosystem.
Badgers have been wandering the British Isles since the Ice Age and it would be heartbreaking to lose them.
So maybe take two minutes today to sign this petition against the cull or support the work that the Born Free Foundation are doing to try to end this inhumane practice and save our stripy-faced friends. (They also have much more in-depth research and reports into the effects of the culls, if you want to learn more.)