Giant badger 'causing hysteria' at Folkestone School for Girls
The government is starting a cull of badgers in trial areas
A giant stray badger in a school's grounds is "scaring the living daylights" out of pupils, according to a parent.
The concerned mother says the animal has been seen several times in the grounds of Folkestone School for Girls - and the pupils have been told to stay away.
The parent, who did not want to be named, says the creature's presence is "causing hysteria", but believes it is harmless. She is highlighting the case in a campaign against badger culling.
She said: "It has been spotted several times within the grounds, scaring the living daylights out of the teenage girls."
Folkestone School for Girls
The mother said the presence of the animal was brought up at a recent school assembly.
On one occasion, the badger was spotted underneath one of the mobile classrooms and all the pupils were told to close the windows and not to leave until it was safe.
She added: "There were tales of it charging at a pupil and then sniffing her, but these are teenage girls who are full of drama. It is a giant badger and it is causing hysteria."
There is a badger sett at the bottom of the school field, which the mother believes might have been disturbed by recent building work.
She said another badger from that group - not the outsize one - was spotted last Thursday night.
"I hope the giant badger and the others are captured humanely and moved as the school might start getting concerned about pupil safety," she said.
"Some of pupils are saying they are now too scared to walk past certain parts of the site in case a badger runs out and bites them.
"The point is not only to say why there are hundreds of screaming, hysterical girls in Sandgate but also to get people to sign the petition to prevent the government's badger cull."
School management explained it only had reports of a single badger that seemed disorientated and wandered over towards the school buildings on one occasion.
It was watched and accompanied back to its sett by site staff and has not been seen since.
Tracy Luke, executive principal at Folkestone School for Girls
School principal Tracy Luke said: "We do have a badger sett in the school grounds, well away from school buildings."
She said a member of staff did mention the badger incident to pupils, asking them to let staff know if they saw a badger and suggesting that they should not approach it.
Owen Leyshon, of the Romney Marsh Countryside Project, said that badgers are harmless, but it is unusual to see them during the day as they are nocturnal.
He said: "Badgers are not aggressive and I am not aware of any behaving like that. They are actually very shy creatures. It is however, unusual to see them in the day as 99% of them come out at night.
"If a badger is seen during the day once, you can discount that, but if it is seen in daytime more than once then it may be unwell and it is best to call the RSPCA."
Mr Leyshon said that the only aggressive form of badger is the honey badger, which is only found in Africa and Asia.
The government is starting a cull of badgers in trial areas to combat bovine TB, reducing local populations by 70%.
But protesters say this will do little to help reduce the disease and instead want vaccination for both badgers and cattle.
Trial killings begin in Gloucestershire and Somerset after June 1, yet the Welsh government has just started its second year of badger vaccination in a disease hotspot in north Pembrokeshire.
An e-petition against killing received 219,394 names by Monday, which passes the threshold of 100,000 signatures to trigger a debate in parliament.
The Folkestone School for Girls mum said: "Badgers are no threat to us and there is little or no evidence to say that they are actually responsible for causing bovine TB or that the cull will help. They are lovely creatures and need our protection."
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