Background

Badgers and their setts are protected under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. Under this Act it is illegal to destroy, damage or obstruct access to a sett or disturb a badger while it is using its sett. A sett is defined, under the Act, as any structure or place showing signs of current or recent occupation by a badger. Licences are required for works that will disturb badgers while in a badger sett.

EMEC Ecology works with a wide range of clients from developers working on large housing projects to home owners with badgers causing damage to their properties. Through our Land Management team we are able to carry out badger sett exclusions and the creation of artificial badger setts. In addition to badger surveys, EMEC Ecology offer Badger Vaccinations (for bovine TB).

Timing

Badger surveys can be carried out throughout the year, although the optimum time is autumn and late winter to early spring when badgers are active, but vegetation is low.

Methodology

Standard Badger Survey

Our first step is often to consult with local records centres and local badger groups to gather records of badger in the area, as this may help with a planning application.

The badger survey will follow the standard methodology, which involves recording the following signs of badgers: badger paths, footprints, dung pits, badger hairs, scratching trees, bedding and badger setts.

If a possible badger sett entrance is discovered during a badger survey, and it is unclear whether the hole is currently being used by badgers, monitoring of the site will take place. Sticks are placed at the entrance of holes such that they would be knocked over if a mammal passed through. Sticky tape is fixed to the sticks to 'catch' any hairs of mammals passing through the hole.

With infra-red video surveillance equipment, EMEC Ecology have the ability to observe badgers around their setts at night. This can provide more evidence of badger setts and give a better idea of population sizes. This technique can be used in conjunction with other survey techniques to help with a planning application.

To request a more detailed badger survey information sheet, please email mail@emec-ecology.co.uk.

Badger Bait Marking Surveys

This technique involves determining the territories of badger social groups. The bait is a mixture of peanuts, golden syrup and indigestible plastic pellets (which is harmless to the badgers) and this is placed close to badger setts. The plastic pellets placed at each sett are a different colour that can then be identified through the badger's droppings. Badgers mark their territory with communal latrines (dung pits); therefore the coloured pellets recorded within dung pits can be used to form an understanding of the extent of a badger clan's territory. The information from bait marking can then be used in conjunction with recording other badger activity such as well worn paths and footprints.

Following the Survey

Report

We will provide a report detailing the results of our survey and any required mitigation as soon as possible following the survey, however; should you have a specific date for submission of a planning application we will do our utmost to accommodate this.

Badger Exclusion and Badger Disturbance Licences

If setts are found during badger surveys, and the sett cannot be retained or avoided, a badger exclusion or disturbance licence may be required for development works to proceed. If this is the case a licence application to Natural England, including a detailed mitigation report will be required. Licences are usually only granted for the period between the 1st July to 30th November, so that the badger breeding season is avoided.

In some cases it may be necessary to exclude badgers from a sett completely, for example if heavy machinery needs to cross directly over a sett. However permanent sett exclusion should be considered a last resort, with all other avenues (avoidance measures or a temporary exclusion) considered first.

A disturbance or exclusion licence will only be granted by Natural England if sufficient consideration has been taken with regards to the welfare of the badgers. EMEC Ecology can assist in ensuring that appropriate mitigation is designed in the application.

Our Land Management team we are able to carry out badger sett exclusions and the creation of artificial badger setts.

To request a more detailed badger sett closure information sheet, please email mail@emec-ecology.co.uk.

Examples

Badger Sett Closure with One Way Badger Gates - Nottingham

EMEC Ecology undertook the permanent closure of an outlier badger sett in a residential area of Nottingham (following a badger survey of the site). This project was given a licence under Natural England, not for development but due to damage to property. In this particular case badgers were excavating a large sett within the rear garden of a residential property. Although used by only a few badgers on an occasional basis, the sett extended across approximately half the garden and resulted in entrance holes and collapsing tunnels occurring throughout the lawn. EMEC Ecology staff were able to close the sett using one-way badger gates and exclude badgers from the sett. The sett was then excavated and all tunnels back filled. The badgers were found to be residents from a nearby main sett and therefore the conservation of the local population was not affected. Furthermore, the badgers did not attempt to re-enter the sett during the monitoring period before excavation; indicating the sett was not of high importance to the local group.