East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS) was called out on Tuesday 29th November to a huge badger which had fallen over 20ft down a wall into a concrete courtyard at the back of a house in Old London Road, Hastings. WRAS sent rescuers Trevor Weeks MBE and Stuart MacQueen in one of its Technical Rescue Veterinary Ambulances from its base at Whitesmith near Hailsham to the scene.
The female badger which weighed over 14kg, was reluctant to move and was a struggle to get into a rescue cage due to its size.
The badger is thought to have fallen down the wall during the night from a well-used fox and badger pathway running along the top of the wall.
Badgers falling down such walls and cliffs is quite common in Hastings along with several other towns in East Sussex normally they just need releasing late that night once surrounding roads are quieter and less dangerous, but this heavy badger had fallen onto concrete which caused rescuers concern.
“When we arrived, the badger was curled up in the corner trying to sleep after her night-time ordeal. We try to avoid handling badgers due to how strong and dangerous they can be to handle. In case of injury, we must be quite carefully how we move them. Badgers don’t have a scruff, unless underweight, but even then, they are an unreliable as a form of control. The badger really did not want to move, and we were not sure if this was due to an injury or if the badger was just being stubborn” said Trevor Weeks East Sussex WRAS Operations Director.
Once back at WRAS's Casualty Centre at Whitesmith near Lewes, the badger was checked over by one of WRAS's vets Lourdes Cortes Saez as she was noticed to be wobbling when walking. Under anaesthetic no serious injuries were found and the problem suspected to be muscular or due to her weight.
The badger was given a few days rest and recuperation to ensure the injury healed well and she was fully mobile and fit enough on release, which is important in a residential area.
On Friday 2nd December the badger was taken back to Hastings, late at night, and release onto the badger pathway where it crossed a public path about 10 metres from the garden where the badger fell.
Badgers generally weight between 8kg in the spring and 12kg in the early winter, but this badger was well over 14kg. Overweight animals can experience the same problems as overweight humans and pets, with a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.
"Our wildlife don't think about food in the same way we do, they are opportunists, and don't trust that a food source will be guaranteed and always present so will often overeat and fill themselves up in case other sources of food aren't present. In residential areas where people feed wildlife this is often leading to over feeding and in some circumstances inappropriate levels of feeding taking place. This can be dangerous and like for our pets, if overweight they run the risk of heart disease or stroke," said Trevor Weeks Operations Director of East Sussex WRAS.
"Feeding wildlife can be fun, therapeutic and very educational for younger family members, but we need to respect our wildlife as being wild and encourage them to eat natural food and avoid causing them to become unhealthy," said Trevor.
"I would urge people not to feed human food, like takeaway food including pizza, fish & chips, curry or chinese as well as gravy mixes, chocolate and doughnuts - all of which we have been told by people they feed to badgers and foxes on a regular basis. It is much better to create natural food sources by planting fruits, flowers and herbs in your garden which will encourage the bugs and beetles which will help support the rest of the food chain naturally, in a more sustainable and healthy way" added Trevor.
“People often mistake animals as being hungry because of how fast they eat or desperate for food they appear, when in reality they are just concerned about getting the food before someone else and not missing out. There is also a misconception about wild animals being thin because we have been use to thinking our pets are healthy when actually they are overweight. This can lead to a cycle of putting more and more food out till it gets out of control. This can cause a localised over population in some species like badgers and foxes resulting disease spreading more easily or suffer persecution by people who are less wildlife friendly. There is also the addition problem of being reliant on food, and a sudden stop can cause suffering and even fighting amongst the creatures who then get even more protective of other local food sources as a result of people moving, or when people are ill or end up in hospital. If anyone wants to cut down what they are feeding people do so gradually over at least 3 months to give the animals a chance to adapt and move to other food sources in the local area. Ideally don’t feed every day, except in extreme weather like drought or freezing weather and feed in moderation.” added Trevor.
You can support the work of East Sussex WRAS and help support our wildlife heritage. Please donate at www.wildlifeambulance.org.
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Raw footage of the rescue, treatment and release is available by clicking here.Share this!