Stop the cull!

Badgers are an animal that I hold very close to my heart. They are what inspired my connection with the natural world and made me fall in love with watching wildlife and the cull is something that took that experience away from me. It is controversial subject for many but let’s be honest it has been going on for far too long and still to this day, in 2019, this inhumane act still happens and unfortunately it happens on a daily basis, despite scientific facts, protests and the brave people who sabotage the hunts. Over the last few years Natural England added Staffordshire (area 31), my own county, to the cull zones. The cull has spread throughout Staffordshire like wildfire and during 2018, a total number of 3979 Badgers were culled. Culled either by, controlled shooting or cage trapping and one would assume that, controlled shootings, were not so controlled. I would also assume that there is a high possibility more Badgers were culled and not reported… I find it very hard to come to terms with these figures... I don’t see a reason why it should continue, it is not fun and it is most definitely not been effective - just expensive and unnecessary. 

I am lucky to spend my summer evenings observing Badgers at local setts and the joy I get from that is something I wish everyone could experience. They are adorable, playful, insightful and just cute - I really love being around them. Getting to know individuals is always a bonus, to see their different personalities and to see who’s more curious than the other and more willing to approach. Seeing their nose point towards the sky as they emerge from the sett to smell the surroundings is a sight that gets my heart beating and something I will always love. The suspense and excitement builds up and then finally no more than 15ft in front of you, you have a family of badgers going about their life. Thinking back to past encounters with the first sett I worked with is where I had the most fun. It was also the first time I had seen cubs and there was one cub that was very curious of me, so curious in fact he would almost always walk right up to me. At first photographing them was a pain as the sett was in a busy country park and most nights people would walk past and obviously I didn’t want to draw attention to the sett. After a while I began staying later at the sett to the point where I was sat in the woodland in total darkness and this way I avoided people. Just like photographing Tawny Owls my camera settings were the same - 300mm, F6.3, ISO 400, 1/250 + flash and to focus I used a small torch light to light the sett. By the time I was able to photograph the cub it had grown up but it was still super cute and photographing it was a pleasure. It was a long-time coming and overdue, but to finally have images of the cub I had watched grow was a good feeling!

What I do wish is that more people watched and appreciated Badgers, then hopefully, they would have more of a voice for better protection against narrow-minded individuals who try to destroy our natural world…