Penalties for offences include fines of up to £5000, plus up to six months imprisonment, for each illegal sett interference, badger injury or death.
If evidence of badgers is found on site after works have started all work in the area must cease immediately and an ecologist appointed to liase with the relevant statutory bodies.
Works may have to be delayed until mitigation can be carried out at the appropriate time of year.
An Extended Phase 1 Habitat survey in the planning stages of your project will indicate the presence of badgers on your site.
Badger (Meles meles)
Badgers can be found throughout the UK with the largest numbers in the south of England. Badgers live in networks of underground tunnels called setts which they dig using their long claws. They live in social groups of around 5 adults which are usually headed by a dominant male and female (boar and sow). Badgers prefer sloping ground and sandy soils which are easier to dig into, with a mosaic of habitat features such as deciduous woodland, pasture and arable habitats. The main preferred habitat features are:
• Soils which are well drained and easy to dig, but still firm enough to prevent roof collapse
• Adequate food supply available throughout all seasons
• Sufficient cover to allow inconspicuous emergence from setts
• Relatively free from disturbance
Badgers eat a wide range of plants and animals depending on what is available at the time of year. A badgers diet consists mainly of earthworms and they can eat as many as 200 per night. They are opportunists and will eat whatever is available such as insects, birds, small mammals, fruits and berries, cereals, reptiles and amphibians and occasionally the contents of your bin.
Heavy persecution of badgers in the 19th century caused numbers to drop dramatically and by the end of the 19th century badgers were considered rare. It is believed that most of the pressure on badgers at this time came from gamekeepers who saw them as an immediate threat to livestock. The Badger act 1973 (and amendments 1981, 1991, and 1992) has helped badger numbers to recover and today they have an estimated population of around 300,000.
The main threats today are:
• Road accidents
• Culling to prevent bovine tuberculosis, which is highly controversial
• Illegal badger baiting, digging up setts, setting up snares, shooting and having their sett holes blocked
• Habitat loss and fragmentation
An Extended phase 1 habitat survey prior to the start of any works on site will identify badger habitats and field signs and enable you to plan for any necessary licensing and mitigation work.
Contact us for any advice relating to your project.