One of the best things about my job is the number of people that I meet who are doing their bit to help our wildlife. At a time when UK wildlife has never been under more pressure from the combined effects of persecution, pollution, development and climate change it is really encouraging that there are some brilliant people out there doing great things, often in their own time and at their own expense.

Over the past few weeks, volunteers from Somerset Badger Group have been helping us with our badger vaccination programme at the League’s Cowley wood and Baronsdown wildlife sanctuaries. This involved pre-baiting sites on evenings and weekends, setting specially designed cage traps, early morning checks to see if badgers had taken the bait, and then finally vaccinating any badgers that were caught. The killing of badgers, both legally as part of the cull and illegally, has been going on for so long in the area that the density of badgers is now very low. This is making trapping badgers for vaccinating increasingly difficult, but we will persist for the duration of the programme, which at present means another four years.

Vaccinated badger - Paul Tillsley

We have also been working with our friends at Secret World Wildlife Rescue and the RSPCA West Hatch Wildlife Centre to release animals that have been rescued and rehabilitated onto the League’s sanctuaries. Over the summer we have released hedgehogs, foxes, pheasants and red-legged partridges onto different League sanctuaries. Each individual animal having received many hours of care and support from dedicated staff and volunteers. All these species are persecuted either directly in the name of sport or because they are perceived to be a threat to game birds or livestock. We cannot guarantee their protection once they are released, but at least we can give them a second chance of living a full life.

Fox at Baronsdown - Paul Tillsley

Red-legged partridge on Baronsdown - Paul Tillsley

We are very grateful to the volunteers from Devon Birds who have been going out once a month in all weathers to survey the bird life at the League’s Cove Down wildlife sanctuary. It is important for us to know what wildlife we have on the sanctuaries, so we can manage them in the best way we can to help. So far, the volunteers have come up with an impressive list of birds, from the common to the rare, and it will be fascinating to see what else they find.

Finally, we are indebted to the volunteers who keep an eye on the League sanctuaries near to where they live and report back to us with sightings of wildlife or hunts nearby. There are only two members to care for all nine League sanctuaries and although remote cameras help us keep track of what is going on, they are no substitute for a human presence.

If you have some spare time or a particular skill and you would like to volunteer for the League at the sanctuaries or in a local group elsewhere in the country, please visit www.league.org.uk or call 01483 524265