Legal protection of badgers
Under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, it is illegal in England and Wales to take, injure or kill a badger, damage, destroy or obstruct access to a sett or disturb a badger whilst it is occupying a sett. Similar protection is given by the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011 and the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985. The protection of badgers was initiated to prevent cruelty and persecution through baiting and other blood sports.
A badger survey is often required to demonstrate development proposals comply with this legislation and to inform any mitigation and licensing requirements.
Will badgers impact my development plans?
Badgers are abundant and widespread throughout the UK, inhabiting both rural and urban sites. Consequently, they frequently occur on or near development sites.
A preliminary ecological appraisal can determine whether a site could be suitable for badgers. This involves:
- a desk study to reveal any historical or distribution records for badgers.
- a site visit to identify any habitat types on site suitable for sett construction or foraging.
Where suitable habitat for badger is recorded on or near the proposed development site, a badger survey may be required.
If a badger sett is found to be present and an impact cannot be avoided, then we will advise on suitable mitigation options. This may require exclusion of badgers from the affected setts under licence from the appropriate regulator. Exclusion is usually done by fitting one-way gates to the affected sett. This technique can only be undertaken between July 1st and November 30th, outside of the badger breeding season. There must be an alternative place of shelter for excluded badgers which may require construction of an artificial sett where large setts are impacted.
Because of the seasonal restrictions for mitigation, we recommend a badger survey is undertaken as soon as possible to avoid delays to construction schedules.
How to do a badger survey
There are three types of badger survey:
1 – Badger sign survey
Since badgers are principally nocturnal animals, this survey concentrates on searching the site methodically for the presence of badger setts and other evidence of badger activity, such as paths, latrines and footprints. For smaller sites it may be possible to combine this survey with the preliminary ecological appraisal for the site.
Data from the survey is digitally recorded and mapped, including information on the number, status and activity level of any setts within the survey area. Once the survey is completed we will provide a report and advise if any further survey or mitigation measures are required. On most sites this survey can be completed in one day.
2 – Sett monitoring survey
Where a potential badger sett has been recorded, but it is unclear if the potential sett is in use by badger or another species such as fox or rabbit, we may recommend a sett monitoring survey using remote infra-red camera traps. This survey determines if badgers are present and if so the frequency of sett use. Cameras are left in situ for approximately five days.
3 – Badger bait marking surveys
Where a badger main sett will be affected by development and requires exclusion, a badger bait marking survey may be required to determine the territorial boundary of the affected badger clan. Understanding the extent of the territory enables a suitable location to be identified for the construction an artificial badger sett that will provide an alternative place of shelter for excluded badgers.
Bait, comprising peanuts, golden syrup and indigestible coloured plastic pellets, are placed near sett entrances. Badgers mark the boundaries of their territory with communal latrines, so using different coloured pellets at different setts can determine the extent of a badger clan’s territory. This survey takes approximately three weeks to complete.
Badger survey season
Badger sign surveys can be carried out all year round, though the optimal time is autumn, winter and early spring when vegetation is sparse enough to easily locate setts and other signs. Sett monitoring survey can be undertaken at any time of year. Badger bait marking surveys are best undertaken in March and April when badgers are most active in marking territories.
Download our ‘Species Survey and Mitigation Planner’ to help plan your ecological surveys for all UK protected species.
When is a badger licence required?
A mitigation licence will be required from the relevant licensing authority for any project that will result in the damage, destruction or disturbance of a badger sett. We have badger specialists in our ecology team who can advise on practical mitigation options and obtain the required licences. Our site contracting team are experienced in the construction of artificial setts, badger exclusion fencing and installation of one-way gates.
Badgers: How we can help
At Thomson environmental consultants, our badger survey and mitigation strategies are guided by best practice and our experts meet the competencies set out by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM).
Get in touch to arrange a badger survey today and avoid any unnecessary delays to your project.Contact Us