WILDLIFE lovers have called for greater protection of badgers which they say are facing “threats from all directions”.

Following National Badger Day, on Thursday, volunteers with the Oxfordshire Badger Group (OBG) have been celebrating the iconic mammal, one of the country’s oldest species.

Badgers have called Britain their home for half a million years, with the country being home to 25 per cent of the global badger population (around 250,000-400,000 badgers).

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Members of the mustelid family – along with otters and weasels – they play an important ecological role, helping smaller animals which use their tunnels and spreading seeds that help plants to grow and flourish.

But the engaging animals – protected by law – are facing a precarious future, with the greatest threat being from the Government’s badger cull. Introduced to help limit the spread of Bovine Tuberculosis, the cull has been attacked by opponents as cruel and unscientific.

The OBG estimates 200,000 badgers have been culled across the country, with 2,294 killed in Oxfordshire alone. They fear that number will rise to 3,000 in the county by the end of this year’s cull season.

A spokesperson for the group said: “Despite thousands of badgers being at threat from the badger cull, the Oxfordshire Badger Group will continue to protect these iconic mammals.

Oxford Mail:

“We are celebrating the beauty and wonder of this amazing native species, which has been part of our countryside for hundreds of years. Sadly though, thousands of badgers are being killed across the country including here in Oxfordshire in the barbaric and deeply flawed government badger cull.”

Rather than slaughtering badgers, the group advocates mass vaccination against Bovine TB. Its members have received training and have been humanely trapping, jabbing and releasing badgers with the permission of supportive farmers and landowners.

“This year has seen the busiest vaccination season yet, working with an increasing number of landowners and brilliant volunteers,” the spokesperson said.

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“The first round in March saw 13 badger setts covered – and that wasn’t even the largest round.”

They added: “Badgers face threats from all directions: development and loss of habitat, changing weather patterns, and busy roads. The hot, dry summer meant many struggled to find water and food and the ground became extremely hard to dig for worms. Our rescue team have been called out to many struggling badgers so far this year.”

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Julia Hammett, the group’s chairwoman, said: “Badgers are an integral and much loved part of our ecosystems and we need to do all we can to preserve their future. We could not do what we do without the help of the public who have been kindly donating to our crowdfunder and we would like to thank everyone who has donated to it.”

Supporters can back ‘brock’ at gofund.me/759fb480