Another Dead Badger

My iPhone pings with a message. Its a voice message. From the sender and the fact that its a voice message I know what it will be about. Another badger did not get back to its sett and has ended its life on the side of one of the Derbyshire roads.

I find it easily this time. Sometimes I don’t find them at all. Perhaps someone else has moved them? The Council perhaps.

But this time I find it.

It is lying on its side, facing me, tight into the side if the road, parallel with the verge. It looks as if it has just fallen on its side and gone to sleep.

I stop the car, pulling well into the side and perhaps over dramatically I switch the hazard lights on. I walk back to the lifeless body.

It is a warm morning, the sun is bright and in the fields the skylarks rise and fall singing as they go. The shell of a farm building stands out stark against the fields.

At first glance she, for it is a she, does not seem to have a mark on her. She has been dead for some time as her stomach is a little bloated and when I bend down and gently touch her, she is stiff with rigor mortis.

Photographing her where she has fallen, I lay two gloves along side her so that later I can get an accurate size.

There is a congealed patch of blood a few feet into the road and when I lift her, to move her onto the verge, some blood spills from her mouth. I turn her over and it is clear that she has been hit either by a car or by something else, hard on the right side of her head.

There is not much blood.

I look around at the fields and the dry stone walls trying to see what led her to this place, this killing field.

The traffic thunders past in both directions. Despite pulling right into the verge, the largest lorries have to stop to wait for a clear run ahead of them. The drivers scowl down at me.

On the other side of the road there is a gap in the wall. I wait for a gap in the traffic to appear and dash across. There is a clear path from the gap to the side of the road, and the wall has the tell tale scratch marks, made by the badgers strong front paws and claws.

Kneeling down I examine her a little bit more thoroughly. Her teeth are worn or missing, so perhaps she was old, and had to forage longer and further, taking greater risks. Perhaps age had dulled her senses.

I move her to the base of the dry stone wall, and make a little hollow amongst the grasses and the nettles and then once I have placed her in the space, and smoothed the grasses back over her, I stand for a moment.

Gathering my gloves, I walk slowly back to the car. Already the flies are gathering.

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