Victim relives badger
|Badgered to Death
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14th May 2003 - By Nicola McGann
BBC News Online, Birmingham
A late night encounter with a badger outside his Evesham home
seemed harmless at first to Michael Fitzgerald.
But within minutes he was savagely attacked, leaving him with
horrific injuries to his arm where his flesh was torn away and in
need of skin grafts.
Michael Fitzgerald is recovering at home after going through what
he has described as "some kind of hell".
On Friday night he was woken by a noise coming from his garage
which he immediately thought was burglars.
When he opened the electronic garage door to investigate, he was
confronted by what he thought was a harmless badger.
Mr Fitzgerald, a wildlife photographer who was also involved in
setting up the BBC's Countryfile programme, said he had never seen a
badger so close before and called for his wife to get a camera.
Within minutes he was left in agony as the badger slowly
approached, then attacked him, latching on to his arm and tearing
his flesh away. The house is still spattered with blood and
there's a bit of arm flesh on the front door. The whole thing
has been traumatic.
"I never envisaged I would be seeing my own insides," he said.
"When you actually see your tendons, muscles and nerves, it looks
like wire hanging out.
"I once saw a Spielberg movie where a soldier was shot and he
looked at his wound with horror on his face. It is only in the last
couple of days I realise just how he managed to capture this."
Mr Fitzgerald eventually managed to shake off the badger, who has
been named Boris.
"His razor blade teeth were around my arm and I tried to shake
him off and he fell to the floor. I ran inside and he followed me
and bit my leg and then grabbed my arm again.
"I managed to throw it away again and get it outside the house."
In shock, Mr Fitzgerald was taken to Worcester Royal Infirmary by
ambulance and he was then transferred to Selly Oak Hospital in
Birmingham where he was treated by specialist surgeons. Badgers are usually wary of
"Beyond having my arm torn, I had to think whether the badger
could be rabid or if it was carrying any other diseases."
Mr Fitzgerald had to have an operation for two skin grafts on his
arm and one on his leg. He has also had stitches to wounds he
He was only allowed home from hospital on Tuesday but will have
to return on Thursday to have his dressings changed. Surgeons say it
could take up to two months before his arm begins to heal.
"The house is still spattered with blood and there's a bit of arm
flesh on the front door. The whole thing has been traumatic," he
"I have two cocker spaniels at home which were thankfully in bed
when this happened otherwise I don't think they would be alive.
"Everything I have read about badgers says these animals avoid
human contact and in normal circumstances would be harmless."
Despite his experience, Mr Fitzgerald said he would try not to be
wary of the animals.
"There is going to be a degree of apprehension but I would like
to think I am intelligent enough to know this is a one-off. I think
this was a badger who had human contact before."
The National Federation of Badger Groups (NFBG) has advised
people against the domestication of badgers.
It has warned members of the public who feed badgers in their
gardens not to provide too much food, so that the badgers do not
become dependant, and not to hand-feed the animals and risk being
However, the NFBG says it has no records at all of wild badgers
biting people except when injured or trapped.
Elaine King, chief executive of the NFBG said: "Boris' behaviour
was quite unlike that of a wild badger, which would have an
instinctive fear of humans."
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