Badger Alert!

1st November 2011: I have just come back from checking a camera trap in Hoo Wood. There is a section of narrow track, probably a couple of hundred meters long, which is only wide enough for one person; even Spike is unable to pass me, unless I step aside into the brambles. Well, this evening, Spike was ahead of me. I heard the fast shuffling gait of a big old badger. I am familiar with this badger and it isn’t the first time that we have met each other on this particular section of track.

My brain immediately snapped from daydream to full alert mode. It has got to the stage where I begin to panic when I hear that fast shuffling sound. Once the badger is on this narrow track, he is not going to stop for anything. Even Spike has to jump over him. I think Spike panics a little, too. Anyway, I had to quickly decide what I was going to do: was I going to jump over the badger? Was I just going to lift my right leg and let him pass underneath, or was I going to spread my legs to let him pass between them?

He was on me before I could decide which option to go for. Something deep within my brain took over. My weight transferred onto my left leg. My right foot came up, and the leg deftly swung over the badger, touching its body as it passed underneath. As the badger disappeared into the distance, I realised that adrenaline had kicked in and my heart rate had switched to fight or flight mode speed.

I have been asked a number of times if there is anything that frightens me when I am wandering the marsh or Hoo Wood in the darkness. Yes, there is: a marauding badger on a narrow track.

6 Comments on “Badger Alert!

  1. How big? Well … I’m not a fisherman, so I don’t exaggerate. My Welsh Cocker field dog weights in at 16 KGs, and he is as fit as a butcher’s dog. This big old badger is larger in the body than my Cocker, but he is obviously shorter in the leg. I would guess the badger’s weight at around 18 to 20 kilos.

    I have seen what badgers can do with those claws, when they are cornered, and I am not keen on having my legs lacerated. One-Eye is about the same size, but this badger wasn’t grumbling and coughing. I was not able to see if last night’s badger had one eye or two.

  2. Amazing! I’m spending my nights trying to get a glimpse of a real live badger, and you’re being practically run over by them.

    I’d have got out of the way too. OK, so badgers aren’t huge, but they do trot around like they own the place. Either way, close encounters like this are a real tribute to your fieldcraft.

    All the best

    BWM

    • Thanks for your comment, BWM.

      There are many badger setts very close to my home, so I am bumping in to them all the time. They are very fond of digging for worms on residents lawns.

      Some badgers are aggressive and can seriously damage a dog with their claws, so it would be a mistake for people to think of them as cuddly.

      I spend nights looking for wildlife, and because I am not specially looking for badgers, I see them regularly. On the other hand, if I deliberately set out to photograph badgers, they avoid me – this is the way it goes.

  3. There’s me thinking you are a roughy – toughy chap Mike, not afraid of the dark, and you are afraid of cuddly-wuddly badgers. You have really gone down in my estimation now. Still my life has been full of disappointments, another one won’t upset the boat.

    I thought badgers were shy, timid animal – are they really an animal to be wary of?

    Will badgers attack dogs? I don’t know why I am worried about badgers, I rarely see one and when I do, it’s usually a fleeting.

  4. I watched you brother on the box last night.

    I am sorry I am such a disappointment to you, Dave. I am relieved, though, that you believe you will get over it.

    Badgers are both shy and timid; it’s when they are cornered that they can get nasty. In an all out fight between a dog and a badger, I’d put my money on the badger to win. Generally, badgers won’t attack a person or a dog, but they are very capable of fighting their corner if it is necessary.

    There is not need for a person to fear a badger, but don’t ever attempt to approach an injured badger. If you see an injured badger, you should report it immediately to the Local Badger Group, or to the Police. Don’t forget that badger are a protected species.

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