Those of you who follow me on Instagram or Twitter will have seen that, over the past month, two of my trail cameras have been stolen. I have no words to describe my disappointment at losing them, as I cannot afford to replace them, and in general, my opinion of humans continues to decline. Thankfully, my friend Scott (with whom I do the camera monitoring) was able to put into words in a Facebook post how we both feel and has agreed for me to repost it here as a guest blog post. Where I’ve added my own comments they are in green, in square brackets and italicised. – Morgan
I didn’t want to post anything about this yesterday [when the incident happened] as I needed to calm down. Yesterday, we arrived on site at a badger sett we monitor to see one of our trail cameras had been stolen. [We know exactly when this happened – at 13:09 on 8th December. Take a look at this video, as a nearby camera was triggered by a bird and you can hear the thieves smashing the camera box.]
The padlocks and front panel were gone and all that was left the housing and bike lock attaching it to the tree. These cameras have been up for nearly two years [Previous cameras have been on site since 2013] and the animal that I’ve learned the most about in that time is humans: how they behave when they think they’re not being watched and sometimes how they behave when they realise they are.
I have seen someone defecate on the main sett; I have seen people willfully let their dogs run around and enter entrances [it is a wildlife crime to allow a dog to do this]; I have seen apparently well-meaning individuals give ‘tours’ of the sett; I have seen teenagers try to stomp a sett entrance in, throw rocks down it, and try to lure badgers out. [See below for the video of this awful behaviour – if you know any of these kids please report it to PC Rich Collins at Willenhall Police Station.]
All wildlife crimes have been reported to the local wildlife crime officer and I’ve seen people try to break and steal trail cameras once they realise they’re being filmed.
[We get incredible support from our WCO, but his hands are tied unless we catch people ‘in the act’. The WCO has actually been on site, encountered a group of men in full camouflage with shovels and Jack Russell dogs, who were, clearly, badger baiters, but he was unable to do anything.]
I need to make this clear: I genuinely believe if these cameras were not on site, that on more than one occasion, a serious wildlife crime would have taken place. When people realise they’re being filmed they tend to leave. I’d ask the question: Why do people steal this? Surely they realise they are on a badger sett? Surely they know badgers are protected? Surely they should think ‘hmmm maybe someone is studying or making sure nothing bad happens to these vulnerable animals’. But I don’t need to ask because the answer is that the scum who do these things don’t care. They’re filth; they’re unintelligent, uneducated dirt. They think they can take what they like. The problem is that they can because we won’t catch them.
So, to the utter trash that stole this: I hope you enjoy the £50 if that you’ll make from stealing it. [Incidentally, though they may make £50 on eBay, in order to replace what they stole, each camera will cost me £170, plus £50 for the security case, £30 for the bike lock, £15 for the alkaline batteries and £10 for the memory card – a total of £275 out of my own pocket.] And although I’m sure the thought hasn’t crossed your mind, I hope one day you realise that thanks to you, these badgers are even more at risk from some other (or possibly the same) dirtbag sending a dog into this sett with the intention of committing one of the most horrible crimes someone can do to an animal.
People actually make me sick.
If anyone knows of someone who has “acquired” a Bushnell trail camera in the Willenhall/Walsall area (DO NOT ASK WHERE IT HAS BEEN STOLEN FROM OR DO ANYTHING TO PUT YOURSELF AT RISK) please contact myself or Morgan. We would be very interested to hear from you.