Scotland’s national badger hub is a partnership between the Trust and fellow conservation charity Scottish Badgers. based at Falls of Clyde Wildlife Reserve and Visitor Centre in New Lanark.
Over 100 volunteers have on taken tasks including surveying setts and monitoring trail cameras. Volunteer Jessica McCaffrey shares her experience of volunteering with the project.
“Have you ever seen a badger?”
As a brand new volunteer for Scottish Badgers, my answer to this question was sadly the same as most. The only time I’d ever seen a badger was dead, at the side of the road.
I decided to help Scottish Badgers with a trail camera project after seeing a volunteering advertisement in the Scottish Wildlife Trust magazine. I had no volunteering or wildlife experience so it was all new to me.
Scottish Badgers arranged a training day where I got to learn all about badgers, their ecology and the threats they face. I met other volunteers and realised that we all had very similar interests and the same common goal. We all wanted to understand and protect our local wildlife.
Next up was the trail camera day. All the volunteers gathered at the Badger Hub at Falls of Clyde Visitor Centre and Wildlife Reserve to learn how to use the cameras, before we were lead on a tour to the location that our cameras were to be set up.
On the way, animal trails and marks were pointed out to me, these were things that I would have walked by previously without noticing. Once on site we decided as a team where the cameras would go and what settings to use, then secured them in place. Walking back to the Hub we chatted about what footage we might get and how exciting it would be to watch.
Then came the wait. It wasn’t for another month until we went back, which felt like a long time away.
After a long wait it was thrilling to get footage of badgers! It wasn’t perfect, we had positioned one camera directly on their loo so a few tweaks were needed, but the accomplishment was there! It was so exciting to know that we had used the knowledge gained volunteering to successfully capture the night time visitors we were looking for.
A few months on and the footage we were capturing was getting better and better (with less toilet scenes) and we started to wonder if one of the badgers could be pregnant. We had been right. Then, one late spring night the cubs appeared! It was amazing!
The footage like this video are being used to promote public interest. You can find more on platforms including the Badgers in the Landscape Facebook page.
It’s rewarding to know that our work can help the badgers by gaining public support. The more accurate and up to date information Scottish badgers have, the better the position they are to protect them from possible threats, so the trail cameras serve another purpose in protecting the badgers.
Because of what we had learned at Falls of Clyde my partner Jimmy and I started to notice animal trails everywhere on our local walks. He showed me what looked to be an active sett and I decided to get permission to put up my own cameras. Not before long I was getting great footage of a big badger family with three healthy cubs!
There are so many different opportunities when it comes to volunteering. I started just on the trail cameras but now I go on surveys where we go out and check specific areas for badger activity – making sure to take a picnic to have at the scenic spots!
I am also becoming a Sett Monitor, keeping an eye on one or two local setts, and have recently applied for training to become a registered badger worker.
This is just a selection of many opportunities available when volunteering with Scottish Badgers. The Scottish Wildlife Trust promotes volunteering from Scottish Badgers and lots of other conservation groups so the opportunities are out there.
I’m having a fantastic time volunteering, meeting new friends, learning valuable knowledge and helping protect our wildlife. It gives me an insight into the wonderful work that Scottish Badgers are doing and so much more.
So, if someone was to ask me now, have you seen a badger? My answer will be yes! Have you?
My special thanks to the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Badgers, the Countryside Rangers and all the volunteers. Without the training, support and the work of the volunteers none of this would have been possible.
This blog was published as part of Volunteer Week 2018. Learn more about volunteering with us.