No living creature is currently splitting national opinion quite like the badger.

While many farmers view badgers as marauding vermin, others remain fiercely protective of the elusive, nocturnal mammal.

One group of volunteers have made themselves available 24 hours a day to support badgers which are a protected species under European and UK law.

North East Essex Badger Group aims to defend badgers from baiting, grassing or snaring and protect their setts and habitat.

Since its inception in 1989 the group has helped up to 50 badgers a month injured in road crashes.

Those that can be saved are rehabilitated and reintroduced to the wild.

It also saves, on average, six orphaned cubs a year by nurturing them until they are ready to form their own family.

The group covers 750 square metres of land over the Braintree, Colchester, Tendring and Maldon districts, recording and monitoring badger setts.

It also organises badger watching visits to its hide.

It has 129 members, but needs more to continue its work researching and protecting setts and fundraising.

Judy Massie, committee member, said: “We would really like to see new blood coming into the group with new ideas for fundraising.

“We have a committee of 12 but there is no-one to replace us.

“It would be great to recruit people who are really interested and can become a prominent member of the group.”

To find out more about the group or to report an injured badger call the group’s hotline on 07751 572175.