South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth last week took part in a visit to WWT Caerlaverock with charity Scottish Badgers and is urging local people to consider getting involved in the great work being undertaken by the group.
The local MSP has been the Scottish Environment LINK Nature Champion for badgers in the Scottish Parliament for the past six years.
The Nature Champions initiative was developed by Scottish Environment LINK to encourage MSPs to champion endangered or iconic species and priority habitats, raising awareness and promoting action to restore and safeguard Scotland’s environment.
On Tuesday (2 August), Colin Smyth took the opportunity to catch up with Scottish Badgers’ staff and local volunteers at WWT Caerlaverock to learn more about the work the charity is currently undertaking and view some local badger setts.
Colin Smyth said: “It was great to meet up with the group and local volunteers and catch up with the great work they are doing. Scottish Badgers and their volunteers work tirelessly across the country, monitoring badger levels and looking at ways of ensuring badgers can live in harmony with the rest of countryside without facing threats from appalling practises such as badger baiting, the destruction of setts and an increasing level of road kills.
“It is fantastic that as part of my role as Nature Champion, I am able to get out and meet with groups like this who are doing amazing conservation work and raising awareness of issues facing our native creatures like the badger. People can have strong views on badgers, not always positive, but my role is to work with groups to make sure that the approach taken to any species is based on evidence not myths.
“We all need to become nature champions if we’re to ensure that some of the amazing creatures and places that we love are still around for our children and grandchildren.”
Scottish Badgers has recently commenced a three-year project entitled ‘Get Sett Scotland’. The project, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, will incorporate a re-run of the Scottish Badger Distribution Survey undertaken the by charity back in 2006-2009. The aim of this new citizen science project is to estimate change in the density and distribution of badger main setts across a range of habitats in Scotland.
Over the course of 2022-2025, 500 trained volunteers will survey 1000 pre-selected 1-km squares across Scotland for badger setts, field signs and signs of human disturbance to setts. Surveyors will also record information on habitats found within each survey site.
Scottish Badgers Chairman Eddie Palmer said: “Scottish Badgers was delighted to host this event at Caerlaverock and to have the presence of Colin Smyth MSP who works tirelessly in his role as Nature Champion for the badger.
“We are excited to begin this much needed research to provide an up-to-date estimate of the number of badger setts in Scotland. We would urge any budding citizen scientists to get in touch with us to get involved with the survey work in the south of Scotland over the next few years.”
Colin Smyth added: “This new project is very important and I would encourage people in Dumfries and Galloway to get involved with groups such as Scottish Badgers if you have an interest in our natural environment.”