PORTBURY, ENGLANDIt’s a clear October night near the village of Portbury, in Somerset, a county in western England. “We use this to monitor the badgers at night,” says my guide, an animal rights activist who asked me not to name her for her protection, as she hands me her thermal imaging scope. I train it on an ink-black line of trees and make out a few white dots. She asks for the device. They’re rabbits, she says.
As we follow a footpath alongside arable fields, she freezes: “Ooh!” she exclaims. “A badger!”
Sure enough, at the edge of the trees, I make out a shape with an arched back and long snout.
“Is it your first badger?” she asks. “Are you excited?”
Yes and yes.