Rescue, rehabilitation and release work
We were involved directly and significantly in at least half a dozen
release and rehab cases in 2016. One notable release involved an
injured adult male which had been at the Nuneaton wildlife sanctuary
for five months recuperating after a road accident. The location of
the badger's ‘home’ sett was not known and so Steve Hawkes managed
to find a suitable release site where ‘Denzel’ - as he had been
nicknamed - was taken for release. Obviously impatient at
acclimatising himself to the release area while still caged - Denzel
decided to smash the cage door himself and bolt off to freedom in
the wood. Another rehab incident involved a cub, found in the road
in Edgbaston, which had been taken to the RSPCA in Frankley Green.
They contacted Steve as it was uninjured and asked if he could help.
Having been told where it had been found Steve went out and managed
to track back to what was almost certainly its home sett. He then
collected it from the RSPCA and arranged to let it go near to the
sett late at night when it was safe to do so. The release was
successful, as the cub soon found its old scent trails and returned
home, meeting up with another clan member on the way. Later in the
year Steve also found a release site for a group of five rehabbed
foxes which Geoff Grewcock had been looking after and they were all
successfully returned to the wild too.
So far in 2017 there have been five separate badger rescues by Steve - all successfully resulting in immediate releases for those animals involved. The most notable was in managing to catch a large male badger that had fallen into an (empty) sewage overflow filter bed using a long handled grasper. Access to the concrete bed some 30 yards in diameter and about 8 feet deep - was only gained by means of a ladder and the badger would have had no means of getting out himself. Indeed he was fortunate he wasn't injured in falling in there in the first place. After securing him Steve searched for, and found, the sett he had come from nearby. Then having ensured the badger was injury free he was released back into his sett none the worse for his adventure.
Rehabilitation-wise six badgers have been released back into the wild. One had been at the Nuneaton Rescue Centre and had recovered from a leg injury. He was released into an unused sett at a safe site earlier in the year. Another five badgers, all cubs, had been recuperating after injury/illness at The Vale wildlife hospital. The hospital contacted Steve and asked if he could help with a release site and, as he knew of a suitable one, he collected the cubs, took them there, and all were let go together. This was in late July. The cubs were all unrelated and came from different counties originally. All were tested for TB and were found to be clear. Night cameras left in situ for the nine weeks since release have shown that all five have settled in well and seem happy to have adopted the former disused sett as their permanent home now. Supplementary feeding was carried out nightly for the first fortnight but this has been gradually reduced to twice a week as at the end of September 2017. It is apparent that the cubs have been managing very well in finding their own food sources too - as is evident by their significant rate of growth since release. A week after the badger cubs were released six fox cubs were also collected from The Vale by Steve, taken to a safe wood, and were let go too. You can therefore see that the Group are happy to be involved in helping more than just badgers whenever we can.