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Badger Surveys

Badgers are short-legged nocturnal omnivores in the weasel family, Mustelidae. Badgers are social creatures and live together in large underground setts, comprised of a series of interlocking tunnels with nest chambers and several entrances. Badger sett entrances tend to be the shape of a capital 'D', on its side, and are at least 20 cms (8 inches) wide. In addition from their main sett, they usually have several others in their territory that are used temporarily throughout the year. Setts tend to be located in sloping woodlands, where the drainage is good and the ground is not too hard to dig.

Badger Legislation

Badgers are protected under The Protection of Badgers Act 1992, which makes it an offence to willfully kill, injure, take or attempt to kill a badger or interfere with a badger sett by damaging a sett or any part of a sett. It also makes it an offence to willfully destroy a sett, obstruct access to a sett or disturb a badger while occupying a sett. The accepted definition of a badger sett is defined as “any structure or place, which displays signs indicating current use by a badger”. Hence should work be proposed that may damage or destroy a sett, obstruct a sett entrance or disturb a badger while it is occupying a sett, then a licence is required from Natural England, either to close the sett, or to permit a level of disturbance prior to works commencing.

Badger Seasonal Constraints

Surveys for badger can generally be undertaken at any time of year, but are best conducted during autumn and winter. Please click below to view our badger survey and mitigation calendar.

Badger Survey and Mitigation Calendar

Badger Presence/ Absence Surveys

Badger surveys are conducted within the boundary of the proposed development and some distance beyond. Within the survey area habitat features suitable for badgers, such as field boundaries, woodland and scrub habitats will be examined for signs of badger use. Such signs include latrines, setts, paths between setts and feeding areas, scratching posts at the base of tree trunks, snuffle holes, day nests, hair traces or footprints. The results of the survey are recorded on a map and a grid reference taken with a GPS at each location.

Badger Activity Monitoring Surveys

Depending on the outcome of the presence/absence survey, particularly where it is unclear how recent the badger evidence is, a series of further surveys may be required to assess the extent of the badgers usage of the sett. This involves regularly checking for signs of use, and can include the use of additional detection methods such as placing smoothed sand at the entrance of a sett and checking for footprints, or placing small sticks or double sided tape across an entrance to a sett and looking for disturbance and collecting loose hairs. The purpose of activity monitoring surveys is to establish the level of use of a sett, to see if it falls with the definition of "current use" and to confirm that it is a badger's sett and not another mammal.

Badger Bait Marking Surveys

Where there are a number of main setts located within the survey area, it may become necessary to carry out a bait marking survey to establish the extent of each social group’s territory, which are marked at their boundaries by latrines. This can be done by placing harmless, indigestible plastic markers within some food (usually peanuts) left by the main badger setts. Different colour markers are used for each badger sett. The markers are consumed by the badgers and later defecated in latrines at their territorial boundary. The boundaries of each badger social group can then be identified by linking up the latrines used by each badger group.

Badger Mitigation and Licensing

Depending on the location, most types of work within 20 metres of a badger sett will usually require a licence from Natural England. Where heavy machinery is likely to cause increased disturbance or ground vibration, it may be necessary to obtain a licence for work within 30 metres of a sett. Licences are issued for any required mitigation work to be undertaken (when full planning permission has been granted) normally between 1st July and 30th November only. No disturbance activities or sett closures are permitted between 1st December and 30th June. A licence application takes around 1 month to be processed and determined by Natural England. The application requires information on the proposed mitigation to be submitted, detailing how the badger population will be protected. Typical mitigation includes avoiding sensitive times of year, sett closure or artificial sett construction.

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