Badgers can end up suffering from sickness and injury for several reasons:
Road traffic accidents
Hundreds of badgers are hit by road traffic every year in our area. Most are killed outright. Some however are left alive, but with injuries such as from concussion, broken bones or serious internal injuries. Some of these badgers can be saved if rescued and given prompt veterinary attention. Many cannot be saved from death, but they can be spared from further suffering by euthanasia.
Fighting with other badgers
Badgers may look cute and cuddly, but they can get into some very nasty fights with each other. When this happens, the loser may receive serious bite wounds. These “bullied badgers” often try to get as far away from other badgers as possible and seek refuge in some strange places. We have rescued such badgers from gardens, sheds, a lambing pen, and even a factory! In the warmer months their wounds can soon become infected and flyblown. A badger in this condition will suffer a lingering death unless it is rescued and treated quickly.
Occasionally, badgers are found alive in snares. Terrible injuries can be caused by snares which cut into the victim’s neck, leg, or body. If the wounds are not severe and have not become badly infected, the badger can sometimes be saved. Otherwise, euthanasia is required to prevent further suffering.
Starvation / dehydration
In prolonged drought conditions during the summer, it can be difficult for badgers to find enough food or water. Animals suffering from starvation, dehydration or both conditions are sometimes found wandering about during the day. If caught and given food, water and plenty of rest, some of these badgers will recover and can be returned to the wild.
Occasionally, very old badgers suffering from a number of ailments are found. We have rescued elderly badgers suffering from infected wounds which would not heal, blindness caused by cataracts and in the case of one female badger, cancer of the mammary glands. In many cases the kindest thing to do for these animals is to end their suffering through euthanasia.
Badgers can find themselves in need of our assistance for reasons other than sickness and injury. Occasionally, they will get themselves trapped in places (such as empty swimming pools) from where they cannot escape. Usually, these animals just need to be rescued and released.
On several occasions in recent years we have rescued cubs which have become orphaned. One was taken from her sett by a dog. Two others were found above ground, probably searching for their mothers (who had most likely been killed in road accidents). In all cases the orphans were taken to the Leicestershire Wildlife Hospital for specialist care. Eventually the cubs, as members of new family groups with other orphans, were released into the wild.