Badger surveys can be conducted at almost any time of year, although the optimal time is spring when badgers are active but when vegetation (which can obscure field signs) is not in full growth. Surveys involve searching for field signs including badger paths, latrines, scratching posts, snuffle holes, hair and setts.
Badgers are opportunistic omnivores with a complex breeding cycle. Cubs are generally born in February or March. They live in social groups known as clans and are generally nocturnal. Badger clans defend their territory, which contains enough food and water to support the group throughout the year. Earthworms are a nationally-favoured food source, although this diet is supplemented by other invertebrates, together with frogs and fruit adding seasonal variation.
Within their territory badgers live in a number of underground tunnel systems called setts. Their setts are underground tunnels and chambers dug in suitably well-drained substrate or cavities in rock cairns.
Badgers and their setts are given legal protection under the Protection of Badgers Act, 1992. Amongst other things this legislation makes it illegal to:
- wilfully kill, injure or take any badger or attempt to do so
- intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy or obstruct access to any part of a badger sett
- disturb a badger when it is occupying a sett
Badgers and Development
The Protection of Badgers Act, 1992 (PBA) makes provisions for Natural England/Natural Resources Wales to issue licences to interfere with badger setts for the purpose of development.
Licences to permit development usually only permit activity near a sett or sett closures between July and November inclusive.
Not all development projects require a licence. Whether or not a licence is required depends on the scale and location of potentially disturbing activities. Sometimes a Reasonable Avoidance Measures (RAM) method statement detailing provisions to lessen the impact on badgers will be sufficient.
CES have highly skilled ecologists who are experienced in designing and implementing badger mitigation and compensation schemes. Our experience ranges from non-licensed supervision of works to ensure that badgers setts were not damaged to the licensed closure of setts and the creation and on-going management of artificial setts.