Badgers and their setts are protected by law, under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.
Below is some advise regarding badgers, but please don’t hesitate to contact me for further advise.
Damage to a Badger Sett
If you suspect a badger sett has been destroyed or damaged. You can report it to the police on 101, always ask for an incident no. This you can quote when you ask for an update on the incident, or contact me for further advice.
Badgers in Your Garden
These guidelines have been produced to help people who have a problem with badgers in their garden. Many people are delighted and welcome badgers when they choose to visit. Occasionally, though, they damage gardens, particularly lawns and plants, to the disappointment and annoyance of the gardener. Badgers are strong animals and can damage fences and other boundaries in their determination to enter gardens. Badgers and their homes (setts) are protected by law, but lawful actions can usually be taken to resolve, or at least minimise problems, without harm to badgers or other animals. These guidelines contain general practical advice and information. Particular circumstances may need a site visit to assess the best means of resolving a problem. Readers are advised to seek further local advice before taking any action which, although considered innocent, may inadvertently result in badgers or their setts being illegally harmed or disturbed.
Why do badgers visit my garden?
Badgers are creatures of habit, living in a social group (or family) which occupies a territory. This territory may include your garden and depending on where you live could include many neighbouring gardens and other sites, or surrounding fields and woods if you live in the country. The size of badger territories can vary considerably, with each one providing for all the needs of its resident badgers. Quite often when new properties are built badgers are disturbed and this can result in badgers entering established gardens nearby which have not been troubled before. Also as new gardens are established badgers enter them as they form part of their original territory. Almost invariably badgers will enter gardens in search of food. Badgers are normally nocturnal so garden visits are generally unseen during the night, unless the badgers’ sett is nearby when the animals may visit early in the evening. Badgers tend to follow the same routes when moving around their territory, so the entry point into your garden should be easy to find. On occasion an injured or sick badger may seek refuge in a garden and hide away in an outbuilding or under a shed. Sometimes the badger can be seen during the day. If this happens seek expert help immediately. Likewise if badgers start to excavate a sett in your garden you should seek immediate help. Food placed for other animals and birds, particularly peanuts, will attract badgers. To avoid this such food should only be placed in the garden during daylight and not left out overnight.
What will badgers eat in my garden?
Badgers are omnivorous and will eat many things. Most of the time they search for earthworms and insect larvae, which are often easy to find in lawns with short grass. They will also eat flower bulbs, fruits and vegetables, with some items being favoured more than others. Quite often the seasonal availability of food will result in badger activity fluctuating with the time of year. The most obvious signs of badgers feeding is usually when the scrape out small pits in lawns to dig out insect larvae like cockchafer, cutworm and leatherjackets. When taking earthworms there is often little trace as the badgers suck them up off the ground surface. On occasion badgers will take other wild animals if available,such as rabbits, moles, rats, mice and hedgehogs. They will also take food put for other animals, and occasionally raid dustbins.
Will putting out food for badgers help?
In dry or frosty weather badgers are unable to get at their preferred earthworm and insect larvae food. Putting out food and water at these times specifically for the badgers may distract them from eating other food available, such as your fruit and vegetables. However, food placement may encourage the badgers to visit more frequently, which could be counterproductive if they are causing problems. Also it may artificially support a larger population of badgers than that which would occur naturally. If you wish to feed badgers in your garden, they will readily eat peanuts, raisins, most soft fruits and bread (which can be soaked in water or spread with peanut butter). A specially formulated badger food is also available. Sweet foods such as cakes, honey, jam and syrup are loved by badgers but can cause tooth decay and so should only be given as an occasional treat and then in very small quantities. Milk or meat scraps should not be fed to badgers.
What else might badgers do in my garden?
Badgers could excavate a sett. Badgers are large animals up to a metre long and often weighing more than 12 kilograms. A badger sett would therefore be quite obvious by the amount of spoil removed during excavation, and by the size of the tunnels (250mm diameter). Occasionally badgers may dig a latrine in your garden. A latrine is usually a small excavation about 150mm deep and about as wide, in which the badgers deposit their dung. If your garden has an overgrown area with dense cover then badgers may collect bedding material (grass, leaves or other plant material) and make a nest on the ground surface. The collection of bedding will leave an obvious trail as the badgers drag it backwards into the cover. These nests will be used periodically when the badgers are moving around their territory.
How can I deter badgers from my garden?
It is recommended that you always seek advice before taking any action. The legislation in place to protect badgers and their setts from persecution needs to be clearly understood to avoid well intentioned but illegal action. You could for example block up the place where badgers get into your garden, but if this prevented a badger from getting to or from its sett, it could be an offence. Generally there are several actions which could be considered.
It is possible to construct a fence that will deter badger entry. Badgers are strong and persistent animals that can easily break through or dig under a weak or poorly constructed fence. They can climb well, and will squeeze through quite small gaps. A strong wooden fence with heavy wire mesh attached and extended below ground, or a heavy wire mesh fence with the bottom extended below ground is recommended. Chicken wire is inadequate. The extension below ground will need to extend at least 600mm depending on the soil structure and have a horizontal return away from the garden of at least 300mm. The fence will need to be at least 1200mm high, and with wire mesh fencing an overhang of at least 300mm is recommended directed away from the garden. An alternative barrier is a stone, brick or block wall with a suitable foundation dependant on soil structure. Such a wall should be at least 1200mm high with a smooth surface finish to deter climbing.
Electric fencing, energised either by battery or transformed mains electric supply, can bean effective deterrent. It can also be installed either temporarily or permanently, and can be used to protect the whole or a specific part of a garden. Mains electric supply fencing can also be controlled with a time clock which will automatically switch the current on in the evening and off in the morning. Permanent mains supply electric fencing using unobtrusive materials can provide a cost effective and lasting deterrent. Electric fencing needs to be firmly installed with at least two taut wires. These wires should be placed at heights of 75mm and 200mm above the ground. A third wire positioned at 300mm above the ground could also be installed. The wires should be adequately supported (minimum interval 3 metres), follow the ground contours and be well earthed. Vegetation should be kept cut back to avoid the wires shorting to earth during operation. There are important safety precautions which must be taken when using electric fencing. Please consult the manufacturer’s instructions for further information on these. A leaflet produced by Natural England entitled “Badger problems: use of electric fencing to prevent agricultural damage.
There are currently no chemical deterrents that are specifically approved to deter badgers. Renardine is no longer approved and it is an offence to advertise, sell, store or use it. You can get advice on its disposal from your local Civic Amenity Site. There are products for the home garden market that do not carry any legal restrictions as to the animals against which they may be used. They carry general recommendations in the ‘Directions for Use’ such as ‘effective against a wide range of animals and birds’. I do not know if they effectively deter badgers.
It is illegal to use chemicals like creosote, diesel oil, mothballs orbleach to deter badgers. These substances can be dangerous to children, domestic pets and other wild animals.
There are claims that male human urine, human hair clippings and lion dung spread on the garden may act as a deterrent, but these methods are not recommended.
These devices emit a fixed or variable signal which is inaudible to humans. There are reports that some have proved effective as badger deterrents in certain circumstances, but currently I know of none which are specifically recommended for use with badgers. Should you wish to experiment with such a device then it is recommended that you discuss the application with the device manufacturer or stockist, paying particular attention to the effect it may have on domestic pets.
Badgers digging for insect larvae in lawns can cause significant damage. Some lawns are more likely to support a significant insect larvae burden than others, and this is often determined by the condition of the lawn. Lawns in good condition, particularly if they well drained and free of moss, are less likely to suffer. There are a number of actions which can be taken to reduce this type of problem.
Improving lawn condition Improved aeration and drainage of a lawn will reduce the insect larvae burden. Also the removal of moss and overhanging vegetation which both contribute to damp areas. Generally well drained and well aerated lawns are less attractive to insects as an egg laying site so that less larvae result. Mechanical aeration or spiking the lawn followed by the application of ‘lawn sand’ will improve aeration.
Are badgers a threat to me or my pets?
Badgers are afraid of humans as we are their only real predator. Normally a badger will disappear at the approach of a human and so will not present a threat. However should you approach an injured or trapped badger it may attempt to attack in defence or in an attempt to gain freedom. In these circumstances leave the badger alone and seek help. There are many reports of badgers and omestic pets interacting without problems. Generally badgers will avoid dogs providing they are not harassed or cornered by them. If you have a dog which is likely to attack or harass a badger then it is best to keep the dog in overnight. This will reduce the chance of it encountering the badger and getting into a fight which could result in serious harm to either or both animals.
There are claims that badgers carry disease and will infect humans. This is only remotely possible if you were to be bitten by an infectious badger, or if some reason you ingested faeces from such a badger.
What are the benefits of badgers in my garden?
Badgers have been voted the best liked British mammal. Watching them in your garden foraging for food, perhaps causing acceptable disruption, can give great pleasure and be educational for younger members of the family. The badgers will also naturally remove some harmful creatures which may otherwise damage your crops, fruits or flowers.Badgers were with us longbefore becoming famous in ‘Wind in the Willows’. With consideration we should be able to live in harmony.
The Badger Trust
Work that disturbs badgers whilst occupying a sett is illegal without a licence. Badgers could be disturbed by work near the sett even if there is no direct interference or damage to the sett.
Natural England has guidelines on the types of activity which it considers should be licensed within certain distances of sett entrances. For example the following may require a licence.
Using very heavy machinery (generally tracked vehicles) within 30 metres of any entrance to an active sett.
Using lighter machinery (generally wheeled vehicles), particularly for any digging operation, within 20 metres.
Light work such as hand digging or scrub clearance within 10 metres.
Development and Badgers
A planning application must be made to the local authority whenever development takes place in England and Wales. Often, badgers can be affected by the building works and the potential presence of a protected species should be a material consideration in any planning application. Badgers and their setts are protected by law, The Protection of Badgers Act 1992. Section 3 of the Act makes it an offence to do any of the following unless allowed to do so by a license from Natural England or Natural Resources Wales and the Welsh Government (depending on the type of development).
a) Damage a badger sett or any part of it b) Destroy a badger sett c) Obstruct access to, or any entrance of, a badger sett d) Cause a dog to enter a badger sett e) Disturb a badger when it is occupying a badger sett. A badger sett is defined in the legislation as any structure or place which displays signs of current use by badgers. As such, if badgers are present on site or within close proximity of ground-breaking works (i.e. within a distance whereby any resident badgers could be disturbed by the works), building work can cause any of the above offences if mitigation is not put in place.
If badgers are known or thought to be in the area, the planning application should include a badger survey, to determine if badgers will be affected by the building works.
If badgers will be affected, a mitigation plan should be submitted to the planning authority by the applicant and a license may be required from the relevant statutory nature conservation organization before works can proceed (permitting works which would otherwise constitute an offence under the Act). As such, although badgers are a material consideration in planning applications, they are not necessarily a barrier to building works if appropriate measures are put in place.
If you suspect a building development in your area will affect badgers, you should firstly review the planning application (and associated documents) for the development on the local authority planning website. This review will enable you to see if badgers are acknowledged as being present on/near the site and if a mitigation scheme has been proposed. However, you should be mindful that badger information is often kept confidential on planning websites (to prevent badger baiters finding out the locations of new setts) and so the presence of a sett may not be explicitly mentioned on the planning website. If there is no mention of badgers potentially being affected by the proposals, and you are concerned that badgers have been overlooked, you should then contact the local planning authority and highlight the fact that badgers are present.
It is important to take action quickly, certainly before the application is approved, and even better, before the plans have been finalized. This gives the developer the option of re-aligning buildings to avoid any conflict with badgers. On some sites it may be acceptable to have a badger protection zone around a sett, providing that there are corridors to give the badgers access to and from the site.
In some cases the authorities will allow badger setts to be closed and the badgers excluded. Some exclusions may even require the construction of an artificial sett in compensation for the loss of the natural sett (depending on the perceived importance of the natural sett and the abundance of alternative sett building locations nearby). These artificial setts should be close to the original setts to allow the badger clan to continue to use as much of their remaining territory as possible. It should be noted that there is no provision in the Badger Act to allow translocation of badgers from a site required for development.
New roads can also be a major threat to badgers as they can fragment territories, require the closure of multiple setts and, once operational, result in badgers being killed or injured by motorists. As such, the surveys required to assess the potential impacts to badgers due to the construction of a proposed road are often more extensive and detailed than those for an isolated project such as a housing development. Information will need to be collected to identify the importance of the land crossed by the route. In addition, information will need to be collected on use of the general area by badgers and how the road will affect the territories and resources of the local badger population. These types of surveys can often require the employment of bait-marking techniques to define the territories of local badger as best as possible.
Mitigation measures for new roads often involve routing the road to avoid areas of high ecological sensitivity (normally not specifically noted for badgers, but badgers benefit from the ‘umbrella’ protection provided by the site). This can help avoid direct impacts on badger setts. In terms of actual road design, badger tunnels can be incorporated under the new road where it crosses known badger paths to facilitate badger movements across it (it is cheaper and easier to incorporate tunnels at the construction stage rather than retrofitting tunnels to a completed scheme in response to badger Road Traffic Accidents at certain locations) Fencing will also be needed to guide badgers to the badger tunnel and prevent them from accessing the new road. Badger Trust can help with general advice, but it is difficult to comment on a local issue without being in that area and able to visit the site.
The Badger Trust
If you suspect that a badger has been poisoned. The Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme will arrange investigations into such incidents throughout the UK. In brief, if you suspect an animal has been poisoned with pesticides or are at risk, note the location as precisely as possible.
Do not touch the animal or remove it from where found.
Phone 0800 321600 or contact me
It is important when you see a RTA of a badger that it is reported to me on 07966 378366, this phone is available 24/7, giving the exact location along with any helpful landmarks. Either I will attend or I will arrange for someone to go out to the badger. Sometimes the animal may look dead but on closer inspection they are still alive, either in pain or unconscious. In the case of the badger being still alive, it is taken to the nearest Wildlife hospital or vet for treatment. Once fully recovered the badger can then be released back at its sett. On some occasions sadly, the only option for the badger is to administer euthanasia.
Any injured adults I manage to rescue stay in recovery pens, during their stay, a survey is carried out where the badger was found to locate its sett, then, when the badger is well enough, it will be returned back to where it came from. How do we know the sett is its home? The badger lets me know that…The badger is transported in a cage to the area where setts have been found, the badger gets very excited and sniffs the air and claws away at the cage to get out, this is when I let it go, this is very rewarding to see, and makes what I do worthwhile.
The breeding season for badgers starts on the 1st December and continues through to the end of June. As a norm, badger cubs are born in February and the cubs surface late April early May; it’s during the early months that the adult boar can be kicked out of the sett by the pregnant sow. We start to see a steady increase in RTA’s of badgers from April onwards, normally boars…This period is always a worrying time for us, as the injured badger may well be a suckling sow, if the latter, then we need to locate her sett and monitor it to see if her cubs come to the surface in distress. If the cubs do come out we have to make a decision whether to remove them and take them down to Secret World Wildlife Rescue Centre in Somerset or to Wildlife Aid in Leatherhead. There, they are given blood test – vaccinated against BTBand Parvo Virus. They are micro chipped and given an ID tattoo on the belly the latter is done to help identify them if the badger is involved in an accident during latter life.
All cubs are introduced to other orphaned cubs where they form a new social group and depending on how many cubs there are, i.e. (There may well be 50 + cubs that come in to the centres) so a social group can consist of anything from: 4,5,6,7 or 8 cubs… All cubs will be looked after until old enough to be released into an artificial sett that has been constructed for them on land that has been provided by landowners that want badgers on their land. Finding suitable land for badgers is getting harder…Where possible, we now try to reintroduce the cub back to the sett where it came from. This is not as strait forward as it sounds…Cubs are placed in a cage and put outside the sett entrance and closely observed from a distance to see what the reactions are from an adult badger and the cub. If no threat to the cubs safety is seen, then the cage gate will be opened and the badgers allowed to meet up…