Even although we are primarily a swan rescue group nevertheless we will help any wildlife in distress whenever its needed and whatever the problem but in this case our role was more a supporting one as the providers of transport although in the end to also provide some extra muscle when it came to the actual rescue itself.
The phone rang – it was a call for help from Alex who had just had an urgent message from Steve in Chepstow, a member of the Gwent Badger Group, about a badger trapped in a rubbish bin at an address in Machen off the A468 towards Caerffili. Alex is a trainee veterinary nurse at Summerhill veterinary practice in Newport. He runs a small but very effective wildlife treatment and rehabilitation operation with the encouragement and full support of the resident vets who allow him the use of the fascilites at the practice. This is a big advantage when treating the many wildlife casualties he is called on to deal with.
The badger it seems was unhurt despite him having been in the compost bin for possibly as long as four days. It was obvious he must have been attracted by the smell of what was to him, some tasty scraps discarded by the owner and because of the bin’s conical shape was totally incapable of clambering out unaided. And, for us humans, it really was a struggle too as the bin itself had been established at least sixteen years previously and buried about a foot below ground level. It was a difficult situation and no amount of digging allowed the bin to be moved. Eventually a suggestion was made to try shovelling small turfs into the bin which would bring the badger nearer to the top. It worked and as he struggled to climb out Alex was able to slip the grasper (a humane gadget for catching badgers and foxes) under the badger’s shoulders and haul him out and get him quickly into the carrying box Alex had brought with him. The poor animal was quite unrecognisable as a badger – he was black, greasy and extremely smelly.
Safely secured in the box and covered with a thick towel to keep him calm we returned to Summerhill for Alex to work his magic – sedation, a thorough body check to see there were no injuries, and a ‘hose down’ – he was grubby to say the least, but in particular, his ears were full of some fine particulate and unknown disgusting substance which needed to be cleaned out. Later that evening we received a call from Alex with a progress update on the badger. Having been thoroughly washed and dried off at last he looked like a badger and after a large meal was ready to be released back into the area from which he came – now minus the compost bin. But this was Alex’s job – with a little help from Steve, of course.