…you might just see a badger or two.

Courier R of Animalcouriers is chair of the East Surrey Badger Group. Over the past year, 14 orphaned badgers have come into the care of the Group.

With the help of Wildlife Aid, they have created a new social group, raising the orphans together. This has let them get to know each other before their release back into the wild.

Badgers are remarkably strong animals with a powerful bite, so moving them is not without its risks. Patience and a sense of humour are essential requirements for the job.

Animalcouriers supports efforts to help wildlife, and this rehabilitation release was an opportunity for us to lend practical assistance in the form of a van and other equipment. Once loaded into their individual wooden boxes, the badgers were placed in the van and driven by Animalcouriers to the release sites.

When the last box was about to be removed from the van, we noticed the badger had ripped a huge hole in the metal grid covering the top of the box. Fortunately, the badger was still in the box — but it just goes to show the power of their jaws. We cautiously removed the box from the van, then tied a concrete slab over the hole to secure the badger.

The boxes containing the badgers were loaded onto a pallet, which was picked up by a tractor kindly lent by a local forestry worker and driven to the holding pen in a woodland area. The pen contains the artificial sett built by the Badger Group.

Once all the boxes had been taken into the pen, the door was closed, and the process of raising the lids and tipping the badgers into one of the sett’s entrance holes could begin. It’s always a bit tricky if the badgers are facing the wrong way in their boxes, as room for manoeuvre is limited — patience is the order of the day!

There was one slight glitch during the release: one of the badgers entered the sett backwards and then decided to stop and go no further, which meant it blocked any further releases. So the Badger Group had to use a different entrance — which had to be enlarged first!

As the last badger scurried down the entrance, the rain that had been falling became torrential, so it was a rush to get the now empty boxes back in the van. The Badger Group left enough food to provide supplemental feeding for the badgers for several weeks, that will be left out by the landowner.

Once the Group is satisfied that the badgers have settled in and are acting like normal badgers (ie showing signs of digging), one side of the pen will be removed so that the badgers can come and go as they please.

To date, the East Surrey Badger Group has released 61 badgers in this way, an achievement that can be justly proud of. They are indebted to the two landowners involved, who cannot be named for obvious reasons.

With all the effort that goes into giving badgers like these a second chance, it’s a shame that these beautiful wild animals still get the blame from many quarters for passing TB to livestock.