Badgers are primarily nocturnal animals, may grow up to 1 metre in length and can weigh up to 14 kg. They live in family or social groups and may be heard fighting rival groups in defence of a territory. They shelter in holes known as setts which may have up to 40 entrances or as few as 2. Some of the main setts may be used for generations and badger groups can be very loyal to them. Additional setts known as annex, subsidiary or outlier setts also play an important role within a social group. Badgers do not hibernate but stay in their setts during much of the winter.
If there is potential for badgers or a badger sett to be affected by a proposed development, a survey is needed to establish extent to which badgers use a particular area to establish active setts, foraging areas and territory. Badger surveys can be conducted throughout the year however optimal months are from February to April and September to November. Although setts can still be surveyed they should not be disturbed, closed or removed between December and the end of June as the young will still be dependant upon the sow at this time. To determine the presence of Badgers on a site, direct and indirect evidence should be acquired which may include:
Direct badger sightings
Badger prints using track traps
Excavated soil, mud and imprinted paths outside the setts
Bedding in mounds
Distinctive badger hairs caught on thorns, wire or using hair traps or in mounds of soil or old bedding material
Latrines in which badgers defecate (holes in the ground or scrapes in soil)
If further work is required on the extent of the size and usage of the territory, this can be assessed by using bait marking where food may be marked with a small harmless coloured plastic pellets. This can then be surveyed to see where the faeces with the pellets are found, and therefore the extent of their territorial boundaries.
If you require a badger survey, contact us and we will be happy to help.
MITIGATION & LICENSING
If a sett is found to be occupied by badgers, no steps can be taken to deter them from using it without first obtaining a protected species development licence from Natural England or the relevant SNCO. Before any badger licence is formally applied for, it is necessary to make a thorough survey of the area to establish the territorial boundaries of the badger social groups using the area and the distribution of any potential subsidiary or outlying setts and their status. This is to determine which, if any, are in use and to see if there is an alternative sett to which the badgers could move within their own territory.
Badger surveys are usually required in obtaining planning permission, and the planning officers will normally require it to be submitted as part of the planning application. The surveys and reports will also form part of the licence application with Natural England if necessary.
LAW & LEGISLATION
Badgers are protected from persecution under the Protection of Badger Act 1992 (as amended) making it illegal to kill, injure or take a badger or to interfere, damage, destroy or disturb an active badger sett. Badgers are also protected under Schedule 6 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) which prohibits certain methods of taking or killing animals.