The increasing adoption of wireless sensor network technology in a variety of applications, from agricultural to volcanic monitoring, has demonstrated their ability to gather data with unprecedented sensing capabilities and deliver it to a remote user. However, a key issue remains how to maintain these sensor network deployments over increasingly prolonged deployments. In this article, we present the challenges that were faced in maintaining continual operation of an automated wildlife monitoring system over a one-year period. This system analyzed the social colocation patterns of European badgers (<i>Meles meles</i>) residing in a dense woodland environment using a hybrid RFID-WSN approach. We describe the stages of the evolutionary development, from implementation, deployment, and testing, to various iterations of software optimization, followed by hardware enhancements, which in turn triggered the need for further software optimization. We highlight the main lessons learned: the need to factor in the maintenance costs while designing the system; to consider carefully software and hardware interactions; the importance of rapid prototyping for initial deployment (this was key to our success); and the need for continuous interaction with domain scientists which allows for unexpected optimizations.