The Summer and particularly the weather to date has been to say the least "Variable". This has brought with it its own set of challenges, particularly where site access and the use of machinery for tasks has been necessary. In our part of Gloucestershire as I write this we have experienced just over an inch of rain overnight.This inevitably makes for challenging conditions underfoot when carrying out a range of fieldwork.
The upside of such weather is that growing conditions have been favourable for a lot of species and some of the wild flower meadows we maintain have done particularly well this year, recording high densities of wild flowers as well as good orchid numbers.
As a company we have been frustrated and dissapointed this Summer by the complete unavailability of the badger BCG vaccine, which we use to deliver annual badger vaccination programmes on behalf of some of our clients, as one of a suite of measures that can be used to lower the prevalence of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) on their land.The good news is that modelling carried out by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) for the Welsh government seems to suggests that no significant loss of immunity in the badger population will result from this temporary break in our five year programmes. We are led to believe that the vaccine will be available in time for next years vaccination season.
Meanwhile, as ever! Badgers continue to keep us occupied in other directions. Occasionally it may prove necessary to move badgers from an area. In order to prevent or restrict access to certain areas by badgers we are often engaged to carry out or monitor sett exclusions and closures as well as installing specialist badger fencing. We are now well and truly into the Sett exclusion season which runs from July to Nov inclusive. Badgers and their setts are protected in law and all our work relating to these tasks is carried out under licence from the appropriate statutory body (Either Natural England or Natural Resources Wales).
As ecological contractors with an in depth knowledge and experience of badger related issues we are often engaged by various ecological consultancies as well as independent clients to act as accredited agents on such projects.Carrying out everything from artificial sett construction to sett monitoring. Seeing badger social groups taking up residency in artificial setts that have been skillfully built and located for them is very satisfying, especially after all the hard work that goes into their creation.
A reminder to anyone who is over seeing sites where reptile/herpetological fencing has been previously installed, whilst the site awaits its next phase of action. It really does need checking and maintaining! Throughout the summer months we we find ourselves in a constant rotation of site visits to ensure vegetation does not swamp and compromise the integrity of such fencing. If it does, then all the hard work and expense of searching and clearing a site of protected species may be undone. This can be maintained by the creation and maintenance of a strimmed/sprayed strip on either side of the fencing until such time as it is removed.