Oasis for threatened badgers
PUBLISHED: 16:22 25 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:29 23 August 2010
BADGER baiting and snaring are still rife according to the leader of a campaign group that has reached a landmark birthday. West Kent Badger Group was formed 25 years ago to help persecuted badgers who now face the additional threat to their habitats fro
BADGER baiting and snaring are still rife according to the leader of a campaign group that has reached a landmark birthday.
West Kent Badger Group was formed 25 years ago to help persecuted badgers who now face the additional threat to their habitats from ambitious Thames Gateway plans.
The animals are being found in snares by the public and on farms with injuries caused from fights over territory.
An increase in road traffic has seen an increase in orphaned cubs as the parents go foraging for food because their traditional habitats are shrinking across north Kent.
Alex Hills, from Istead Rise, near Gravesend, who is trustee of West Kent Badger Group, said: "The practice of badger baiting is still going on and it's a terrible death for the badger. Their backs are broken and jaws smashed then dogs set on them to see how long they last, it's sickening."
He said that when new roads are built over badger paths they carry on using them out of habit causing additional stress and problems for badgers.
Most casualties found by members of the group in Dartford and Gravesend are sent to Folly Wildlife Rescue centre near Eridge Green, Tunbridge Wells.
Annette Risley has run the facility with her husband Dave Risley for 16 years and in 2008 they took 53 badgers, up from 41 in 2007. They are also helped at the centre by senior animal care assistant Melissa Fiske.
Cubs are nurtured until they weigh 16 kilos, virtually adult size, when they are released back into the wild.
Mrs Risley said: "Of all the animals we get here, badgers are the most labour intensive."
She said the cubs are fed bottled milk until they are big enough to go in outside pens where they interact with other badgers. A suitable release site is found away from main roads and an artificial set built surrounded by an electric fence. After two weeks the fencing is removed.
Mrs Fiske, who has been at the centre for five years, added: "There has been a big rise in the number of orphaned cubs. One of the most touching experiences was when brother and sister cubs were found trying to cross the road.
"They would have gone looking for their mother and the female cub had collapsed with exhaustion in the middle of the road.
"Her brother stayed by her side and was trying to nudge her across the road."
The pair had a happy ending, were nursed back to full health at Folly Wildlife Rescue centre and released together back into the Kent countryside in autumn last year.
The centre costs £1700 a week to run and is financed by donations from the public. For more information visit www.follywildliferescue.org.uk
WKBG is appealing for volunteers, contact Barbara Wilkinson on 01474 703948.
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