About Badgers

Badgers are widespread throughout most of Britain and Ireland, commonest in the south and west, scarce in East Anglia, parts of Scotland, urban Midlands.

Daily Life

Members of the weasel family, badgers are nocturnal and typically emerge from their setts in fading light, or in darkness, sniffing the air for danger before going about their activities. They are very clean animals and usually deposit their droppings in shallow pits some distance from the sett. Bedding material is also changed frequently. Straw, bracken, dry leaves etc. are gathered between the forepaws and the badger shuffles backwards to the sett entrance. Near the sett there is often a 'scratching tree', engraved with sets of parallel claw marks. Sharpening claws keep them in good condition for digging.
Before going off to forage for food along well-used paths throughout their territory, badgers may spend some time around their sett. Half-grown cubs enjoy playing with each other, chasing, jumping and tumbling – the adults often join them. They like to groom each other too. Badgers in the same group recognise each other by scent; one badger ‘musks’ another by backing onto it with its tail raised to secrete a strong-smelling liquid from a gland under its tail.
Badgers being omnivores, will eat most natural foods, but are especially fond of earthworms, beetles, grubs, berries and fallen fruit.

Badgers and Man

Man has persecuted the badger for hundreds of years. Badger baiting was once the rural 'sport' of the ordinary working class and although it is now illegal it is still practised, as we explain below. More recently Government publicised culling has resulted in thousands of badgers, most of them healthy, being killed as part of the attempt to control or wipe out TB in cattle. The culls are widely critiised as being unscientific and politically driven.
Badger setts and badgers are protected by law but reckless or unprofessional building development also results in setts being destroyed and badgers dying underground.
The massive increase in traffic volumes means badgers also face another enemy - high speed traffic. It is estimated that around 50,000 badgers are killed on our roads every year. To understand why so many die in this way it is important to realise that badgers follow the same paths for much of their lives, so if a road is built across their path they will continue to use it. As they attempt to cross the road they are hit. Most die, but a small number are injured, rescued and taken to rehabilitation centres to recover and eventually to be released. Where new roads cross an established badger path, the Department of Transport do sometimes arrange for a special badger tunnels to be built underneath. These work well provided the tunnels are built where the road cuts across the old badger paths with all their long ingrained scents.
A continuing threat to badgers is the illegal, extremely cruel 'sport' of badger-digging and baiting. People caught injuring badgers or digging them out of their setts are prosecuted and fined but they work under the cover of darkness and it is very difficult to catch them in the act. Terriers, often with radfio-controlled locating devices on their collars, are sent underground to locate badgers which are then dug out and either killed on the spot or carried away in sacks to face fighting dogs in specially prepared pits. It's an horrific practice and inevitably the badger dies a horrible death. It is estimated that 10,000 badgers a year suffer at the hands of badger-diggers and lampers, particularly in Wales and the north of England.

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