Badgers Meles meles are one of Britain’s most recognisable mammals and can be found in both rural and urban environments. Badgers live in social groups, known as “clans”, within an underground complex of tunnels and chambers called a sett. A Sett can be as simple as a single entrance hole and chamber, or a large sprawling structure extending several tens of metres, incorporating multiple entrances and nesting chambers. Badgers feed on a variety of foods including insects, worms, grain and fruit. They do not hibernate through the winter, but are much less active and stay below ground. Sows (females) generally give birth between January and March.
Protection and Legislation
Under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 it is an offence to:
- Wilfully kill, injure, take, possess or cruelly treat a badger or attempt to do so
- Intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy or obstruct access to a badger sett (whether or not there is a badger in it at the time)
- Disturb a badger while it is occupying a sett
- Sell, keep or mark a healthy badger or possess any dead badger or part thereof
Badger surveys can be undertaken at any time of year, but are most effective between February-April as this is when badgers are actively marking social territories and when vegetation is less established. The site and surrounding land (where accessible) will be surveyed for evidence of badgers including; setts, paths, latrines (dung pits), badger hair, badger footprints, scratching posts and signs of foraging activity.
Licensing and Mitigation
Works which will impact upon badgers may require a derogation licence to be obtained from the appropriate statutory body for nature conservation prior to the start of works. A mitigation licence permits operations which would otherwise constitute an offence and will only be approved if it includes a suitable mitigation plan and is completed by a suitably experienced ecologist.