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A Brief History of Essex Badger Protection Group

By Susan Flanders

Although our group is now known as Essex Badger Protection Group it was first known as Essex Badger Patrol.

Pat and Ian Barrow were, I believe, the founders of Thurrock(?) Animal Rights Group which was set up sometime during, or before, 1982 to do campaigning against all forms of cruelty to animals. The first meeting I attended was in November, 1982 and further meetings commenced in August, 1984 at Rook Hall, Grays.

On 1 April, 1985 the animal rights group was invited to a meeting hosted by Ann and Graham Starr at their home in Meesons Lane, Grays to discuss the formation of a group that was intended to specifically protect one species – badgers. The Essex Badger Patrol was born.

Badgers needed protection against badger digging because at that time in the Thurrock area (and elsewhere) there were a large number of instances where people were spade digging for badgers, taking the animals to another area where, in specially dug pits, the badgers were made to fight. A patrolling rota was implemented and one of the main purposes of the group was to patrol the setts at least once a week to check that they had not been interfered with, make a note of vehicles and suspicious characters and look for snares. The group also undertook numerous surveys of land upon which planning permission was sought for redevelopment and where badgers were not only in danger of losing their setts, but also of losing valuable foraging ground.

With the new group firmly in place, a major task was to compile standardised sett records of every known badger sett and to update records that had previously been recorded on the Mammal’s Society’s National Badger Survey forms.

Some of the earliest records were of setts which, when I re-surveyed them during 1988, were found to no longer exist as they were on the route of the M25. Those original records were compiled by Bob Cowlin on 26 January, 1973, but his earliest sett record in the group’s possession is for a Corringham sett dated 26 April 1969.

An Aveley sett, the oldest record in our possession, was first noted in 1964 by Kevin Byrne and which sett also disappeared under the M25.

The Group’s records also show that Don Hunford and M. F. Drake were busy recording setts in Thurrock in May, 1968 as were Pat and Ian Barrow in 1985. Paul and Chris Skinner were prominent recorders throughout Essex during 1984-1987 and Randal Bingley recorded setts new to the group during 1989, though one was known to be in existence since the 1940s.

Group members were always willing to go out to injured badgers at any time of the day and night (most injuries were sustained from being hit by cars) and take them to a vet for treatment. The Group has always had a policy of releasing badgers back to their setts as soon as the animal had recovered from its injuries and was able to fend for itself.

Fundraising has been necessary to enable the group to purchase cages and graspers and to provide funds to pay veterinary bills for sick and injured badgers. These events were also an opportunity to promote the work of the Group.

The Group worked in close liaison with the police who held copies of our sett records. At one time we were required to let the police know where and when we were patrolling so that they could disregard reports about people (Badger Group members) being close to, and monitoring setts.

Essex Badger Patrol consisted of separate sections: Colchester and District; Brentwood/Havering; Southend, Rochford and Castle Point; Basildon/Grays; Billericay/Stock; Epping Forest, with each area having a maximum of two co-ordinators.

The first official co-odinators’ meeting of the Essex Badger Patrol was held at Grays Police Station on Friday, 8 August 1986 and the first Grays Group meeting arranged and chaired by myself, was at the Community Association Leisure Centre, Civic Square, Tilbury on 20 August 1986.

Due to the increasing change of focus from patrolling to protection it was decided in 1989 to change the name of the group to Essex Badger Protection Group. Although a one county group, during the early 1990s, the up-county sections of the group (Clacton and Harwich; Colchester; Uttlesford and Saffron Walden; Braintree) separated from the main body, renaming themselves the North Essex Badger Protection Group. Proud of being the founder-group and with strong Basildon; Billericay and Wickford; Brentwood and Havering; Benfleet; Castle Point; Chelmsford; Grays Thurrock and Southend and Rochford sections in existence, we retained our name Essex Badger Protection Group. Fortunately, over the years we have worked in liaison with the badger protectors in the north of the county.

April, 2015 saw the 30th anniversary of the Essex Badger Protection Group (formerly Essex Badger Patrol) during which time the Group has campaigned for, and protected, badgers. This has only been possible due to the many past and current members who have voluntarily and selflessly given their time and expertise to protect these persecuted black and white mammals from the cruelties perpetrated by humans.

Contact Us:

  • Tel: 07341 944567
           07341 944568

  • eMail:

Patron: Mike Dilger
(Natural History Presenter)

The Essex Badger Protection Group
is affiliated to The Badger Trust

Registered charity No. 1111440

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