Why do I need to consider badgers?
Badgers are protected under the Badger Act (1992). This legislation makes it illegal to:
- intentionally capture, kill or injure a badger
- damage, destroy or block access to their setts
- disturb badgers in setts
In addition it is illegal to persecute the species by digging or baiting them or sending dogs down setts for them.
Badgers use a variety of habitats, including arable and grassland fields and field margins, woodland, scrub and gardens. They usually create their setts in banks, ditches or other slopes and these can vary in size from a single entrance to more than 30. They are territorial animals and clans usually mark the boundaries of their territory with dung pits.
When do I need to consider badgers?
Generally, any development or activity within a radius of 30m of sett entrances or which could harm badgers directly should consider badgers. Smaller scale developments towards the extremity of this radius are likely to have less impact on the species and therefore survey requirements and any mitigation or compensation is likely to be reduced. The loss of larger setts to development is likely to require a greater level of survey, mitigation and compensation to address the impact on the local population.
Before commencing any of the following activities you should consider the possible presence of badgers as they could adversely affect them:
- excavations and soil stripping which could affect setts
- creating noises, vibrations or lighting around setts
- pile driving or blasting (even beyond the 30m radius)
- removing large areas of habitat likely to support badger clans
- severing setts from foraging habitats through the construction of roads
Our ecologists have provided advice for a large number different sites with varying levels of impact on badgers advising on levels of survey work required, avoidance measures to ensure works can proceed with no impact on local populations, or developing a suitable licensing strategy along with mitigation and compensation measures ensuring projects can proceed with minimal impact.
What does a survey consist of?
Initially a walkover survey should be carried out to confirm whether there is any evidence of setts, badger trails, badger hairs, evidence of foraging activity or latrines. If setts are found, an assessment will be made to determine whether it is active and how large it is i.e. how many entrances are associated with it. In some cases this level of effort will be enough to determine whether badgers will be affected by the works.
If the sett is likely to be damaged or destroyed as part of the work, then a licence will be required from Natural England. To enable this licence to be granted, additional survey effort such as bait marking, to determine the territorial boundaries of the local clans, and to assess whether there are additional setts in the area, may be required. In addition, camera traps may also be used to determine the level of use, and numbers of badgers using setts as well as other less technological techniques such as footprint traps or using small sticks that badgers can push past at the entrances.
What OSE can provide:
OS Ecology Ltd have extensive knowledge of badger surveys, impact assessments, mitigation and compensation schemes and licensing. Our directors have been named ecologists on licences for the species, allowing the closing down of setts where needed.