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IMPORTANT !
Badgerland DO NOT provide an Emergency rescue service.

Roadside Emergencies

Caution - Badgers!
Get expert help before you deal with an injured badger! Ideally, find some-one who has been trained to handle a badger.
Approach every badger with extreme care - even one which is apparently comatose may move suddenly! If the badger appears unconscious, use a stout stick and carefully prod the sensitive areas near the eyes and mouth, to check that it really is unconscious. Stay out of reach of its teeth or claws and remember that badgers may inflict severe bites! Keep stout stick between you and the badgers mouth, so it can bite the stick before it can bite you. NEVER pick up a badger by the tail. If the badger struggles, it will be able to bite or scratch you anyway; and you may end up dislocating its tail too.
Caution - Veterinary Advice!
These notes are provided ONLY as a rough and ready guide to students who are learning about veterinary practice, wild animals and badgers.
This information on this page is intended ONLY as an approximate guide to what may happen in one particular circumstance.
It does not constitute advice for Veterinary Practices.
Badgerland are not qualified in the field of veterinary medicine.
Reference must always be made to the BSAVA manual of Wildlife Casualty Care for up-to-date advice.
Some of the following information has been extracted from:
http://www.wildlifeinformation.org
http://www.worldwidewounds.com/2002/november/Cousquer/Badger-Fight-Wounds.html
Other sources have also been used.

These notes assume than the badger has been involved in an accident with a Motor Vehicle. These are the most common emergencies involving badgers, with perhaps as many as 50,000 badgers being killed each year on the roads in the UK.

What to do in an Emergency?

  1. Always think SAFETY FIRST.
    If you see a badger in a road or rail traffic accident, find a safe place to stop; and use hazard indicators and a warning triangle to warn other motorists.
    You can't help an injured animal if you get injured too!
  2. Quickly assess the location of the casualty; and whether it would be practicable to attempt a rescue.
    Avoid rescuing an injured animal from motorways, fast-moving trunk roads, or electrified (third-rail or overhead) or high-speed railways. An express train or a speeding car may travel more than 50 metres in 1 second!
    Take account of potential hazards and escape routes when planning capture, e.g. cliffs, roads, rivers, rivers, streams, drains, ponds, lakes and reservoirs, rough terrain etc.
    Safe handling of adult badgers requires experience.
    Inexperienced people should seek appropriate expert advice and assistance.
    It is not a failure on your part if you need expert advice.
  3. Beware of an injured badger.
    An injured animal will be frightened, and can be very dangerous; and an apparently comatose badger can suddenly return to consciousness and become very aggressive. Make sure small children or infirm adults are in a safe location (such as inside a car). Try to avoid having too many people approach the badger at once. You' are better with one or two quiet, calm people than half-a-dozen noisy helpers.
    As well as trying to help the badger, you should also be trying to handle the badger as little as possible (as handling causes the badger stress).
  4. Approach the badger quietly and very slowly.
    Find a long stout stick (such as a walking stick or a dog grasper) and slowly approach the badger. If it becomes aggressive, let it attack the stick before it can attack your legs or hands. Young cubs may be less aggressive than adults!
  5. Quickly assess the badger, but do not touch it.
    Look at the nature of its injuries (see if you can see any broken legs, head injuries, new injuries or marks to the body and whether it may be bleeding), and try and assess its mobility. If the badger appears unconscious, prod gently with a stick, carefully stimulating around the sensitive areas of the eyes and mouth, to check that it is really unconscious before approaching within reach of its teeth.
    Be aware that badgers, like many other wild animals, can carry infectious diseases (such as tuberculosis). If you, or any of your rescue party, have a suppressed immune-system, stay well clear of the badger and any body fluids, or airways. Call for expert help if you need it.
  6. Cover the badger to try calm it down.
    Use an an old blanket or an old coat, then cover it again with a dustbin or a strong box with a heavy weight on it (like an adult person). If you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, then think about using a solid spare-wheel cover instead of a blanket.
  7. Make a note of the precise location.
    Look for any identifying signs, then look for signposts or mileposts, or distinguishing landscape features, bends, bridges, tunnels, house names and numbers, street names and so on. If you are struggling, then tie a bright-coloured piece of cloth to a fence, wall or roadside tree. Think about using a digital or a film camera to record the location and the view, so it can be identified later.
    This is important as when the animal is re-released, it will need to be placed at the exact spot where it was found; and find it's way back into the correct sett with it's own family and any cubs.
  8. Telephone the RSPCA or the Police.
    The Police may need to be involved if the badger is on a busy road or motorway; and their response centre should have the details of the local RSPCA rescue people or the nearest Badger Groups which runs a rescue service.
    If it is safe to do so, then try and wait with the injured badger. This will help the rescuers to find the casualty; and you will be there to point out where it came from before the accident.
    In the not too uncommon event that it limps off before it can be treated, you will be able to point out where it limped off to. This will help the rescuers deal with any young or dependent cubs.
  9. Between January and October?
    It is especially important to contact some-one urgently in these months, as any injured animal may well be looking after badger cubs, which may remain unfed if an adult badger has been killed. All badger groups should be able to rescue any orphaned cubs and either foster them or re-home them for subsequent re-release when they can fend for themselves.
  10. Putting the badger in your vehicle?
    This may be tempting if you are absolutely certain you can get the badger to a vets quickly in a safe manner.
    Ideally, you would want to transport the injured animal in a proper animal rescue cage, although a strong dustbin with a secured non-airtight lid might do in an emergency. Another option might be to put a badger in a properly secure boot-space, if you have an agreed destination for the animal. Avoid putting a badger in an open area (like on a back seat or a foot well), and be aware that a badger might be able to bash its way through a conventional parcel shelf if it wanted to.
  11. Picking the badger up?
    Be aware that the badger may be bleeding (internally or externally), and it may urinate or defecate at any time; so you need to have a strong water-proof tarpaulin or plastic sheet under the badger.
    Using a couple of stout sticks (or a dog grasper if you have one), try and slide a comatose badger onto a large plastic sheet, and then gently move the badger by securely picking up the sheet by all four corners.
    If you can't slide the badger using sticks and you don't have a dog grasper, then you may decide to take a much higher risk and pick up the badger with your hands. Generally, we would say to use thin water-proof gloves (to protect yourself from body fluids). Thick gloves don't really protect you very much from being bitten or clawed, and can make an animal much more difficult to handle. With extreme care, try and pick up the badger by the loose skin at the scruff of the neck and the skin near the rump (but not the tail). As gently as you can, position the badger on the plastic sheet, and put it into a secure place (like a secure boot or a bin as described before). If you have come into contact with any body fluids, follow strict anti-bacterial methods to wash your hands as soon as you possibly can. Do the same with the rescue vehicle too.
  12. Caring for the badger yourself?
    If you are a member of a badger group or a recognised badger expert, this might be a possibility. Otherwise, it is a very bad idea, as you would not know how to treat it, what to feed it on and, importantly, how to get it re-habilitated so it can be returned to its family.
  13. A Badger Group?
    Also be aware that most Badger Groups are 100% aware of the needs of badgers; and will be well versed in providing high-quality treatment with proper rehabilitation. One notably good badger-rescue centre is run by Pauline Kidner in Somerset. Called Secret World, the centre has had very many successes over a number of years.
  14. Non-Expert Rescuers?
    Other animal rescue establishments may be very good at re-homing cats or dogs or ferrets or whatever other animal, but badgers are a specialist case.
    In our view, a small number of amateur animal rescue establishments, do more harm than good when it comes to badgers.
    If you are not using a badger group, try and make sure the animal rescue centre has good recent knowledge of badgers and their needs and can provide tangible benefits for the badger. Know-nothing do-gooders should be avoided at all costs!

Dog Graspers?

Traditionally a dog grasper is a pole with a noose on the end which can be tightened. This allows the handler to control the animal whilst maintaining a distance. The noose is slipped over the animal's head, and pulled to be as tight as a typical dog lead.

The long pole then means the animal can be held a "safe" distance away from the handler, which can make it easier to get the animal into a transport cage, box or dustbin.

With any form of noose, you need to take great care that the noose does not become too tight, otherwise the animal will choke. You also need to make sure that the animal does not cause itself spinal damage by "spinning" round repeatedly on the end of the pole. To mitigate risks to the animal, you should try and keep the noose in place for the minimum amount of time needed in order to achieve a safe capture of the animal.

If you have a dog-grasper, you use it on a badger as follows:

  • Manoeuvre a dog-grasper around the neck before any other handling.
    • Place the noose just behind the ears to minimise the chance of its becoming dislodged.
    • Offer a stout stick for the badger to bite once the dog grasper is in place to distract the badger from biting the handler.
    • Grasp the loose skin over the rump and lift by this (and the grasper) into a carrying cage or dustbin, taking care that most of the badger's weight is supported from the rump not the dog grasper.

The best way to use a dog-grasper is to have been trained in it's use!

Darting

So far as a badger is concerned, the rescue process is highly stressful; and it probably views it as a continuation of the "attack" by the vehicle which caused it pain and injury. Extended rescue scenarios can cause so much stress in some animals that it affects their health permanently or even results in sudden or unforeseen death.

If it looks like the rescue attempt may be very difficult, consideration ought to be made to dart the animal with a sedative. This is permitted only by duly authorised people, who have the correct firearms licence. However, in the right circumstances it can reduce he amount of stress suffered by the casualty, with a much reduce likelihood of stress injuries.

Darting in itself is a dangerous business; and experts need to consider the size of needle, volume and viscosity of the fluid and the amount of power used to project the dart. This needs to be appropriate to the size of the muscle mass and thickness of the skin. Obviously, the use of inappropriate equipment and materials can cause serious damage to the animal.

If you are bitten or scratched

  1. Clean out the wound with soap/detergent as soon as possible (i.e. in the car before you take the badger to the vets).
  2. Apply anti-septic as soon as possible thereafter (i.e. on arrival at the vets).
  3. ALWAYS SEEK PROFESSIONAL DEEP CLEANING OF THE WOUND FROM A HOSPITAL CASUALTY DEPARTMENT (i.e. as soon as you have left the vets)

Seek professional medical advice for any wound which breaks or scratches the skin; or any serious bruising injury. Be very clear to mention to the doctor that the wound was the result of contact with a badger. He should be made aware of the possibility of infection (either by viral, bacterial, fungal or parasitic); and may well recommend a program of anti-biotic treatment. This is especially important in cases in south-west England, where up to 30% of badgers may be infected with TB.

When handling badgers, your own BGC vaccination program should, of course, be fully up-to-date.

See Also

What does the law say?

As regards the Law, killing or injuring a badger in a road traffic accident is not in itself an offence (unless there was a deliberate intent to injure it).

Likewise, you are allowed to take all humane steps needed to isolate an injured badger, call for help, take it to the vets or the animal rescue centre.

However, possessing a badger (dead or alive) is an offence, so you should not go beyond taking it directly to a vet or an approved animal rescue centre. Rescuing one, and then trying to keep it as a long-term "exotic" pet would be an offence.

Remember:

Badgers have exceptionally strong claws and teeth, and these will be able to do some serious injuries to a person. Also remember, that the badger might run away. Check out the story of one badger rescue (look for the "Less-than-smart thinking" story) that sort of went wrong in our Funny News Stories section.

Badger Volunteers?
The WildCRU at Oxford University often need people to help do badger surveys. You can work with some of the best badger researchers in the UK AND learn about our favourite wild mammal.
For more info, click Jobs at the WildCRU.