13 March, 2024

The badgers are still with us.

The first emerged at about 1AM and the second about 20 minutes later. They stayed out, on a dry but somewhat wild windy night for about three hours.

During that time they found their dishes, which I had moved away from the sett, and they polished off the contents. No need to worry then about many nights to leave food before replacing it. Currently they just have slates on their dishes, as there's no need now to frustrate passing foxes by adding rocks on top.

The behaviour of the badgers is very different. One seems calm. The other, perhaps as result of the trauma of relocation to a strange environment, spent a lot of time running back and forth over short distances like a caged animal suffering zoochosis. As they've moved now to larger space than they previously enjoyed I wonder if it has been in captivity for longer – too long perhaps?

They've played together in the past, I think, including shortly before they were moved. I hope we will see them interact in ways that suggest they might stay together, for a while at least, when the fence is removed. Right now I suspect they'd head in opposite directions and the more nervous one would be lucky to survive. Time will tell.

They are orphans who have suffered enough already. Almost certainly they're survivors from setts whose adults were culled as part of the continuing (never ending) campaign against bovine TB which badgers can contract and spread. It's unrealistic to think that all such animals can be successfully rehabilitated back into the wild.

Meanwhile the farming papers are filled with the cries of farmers demanding more badger culling

The demand for simple solutions to complex problems is, like TB itself, hard to eradicate. Sadly, we have very little advocacy for badgers or more sophisticated understanding on this island; nothing like badgercrowd e.g.

Letter of the day in today's Irish Times, headlined "Sorry, wrong badger", concludes: introduced American species, if the grey squirrel and mink are anything to go by, are bad news. How removed are we from nature when it needs an Emeritus Professor of Animal Ecology to badgersplain to a national newspaper and he says, generously, that the American and European badgers are easily confused.