Warwickshire Badger Group

About Badgers

 

 

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About Badgers

Badger Conservation

Badgers are widespread throughout most of Britain and Ireland. They are most commonly found in the South and West, but are scarce in East Anglia, Parts of Scotland and the Midlands.

Ecology of Badgers

Badgers can be found mainly in deciduous woodland and well drained farmland, some large gardens and easily accessible parts of coastal cliffs.

Badgers live in large burrow systems called setts. A sett is usually dug in well drained sloping ground and are made up of a system of underground tunnels.

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  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 in popular culture 

There are many Badger characters in literature including, Badger from Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox, Badger Lords and Ladies of Salamandastron in the Redwall book series by Brian Jacques, Mr. Badger in The Wind in the Willows (and TV and film adaptations) by Kenneth Grahame, The Badger-folk in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, as well as the Hufflepuff House represented by the symbol of a Badger from JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

Badger Protection Act 1992 

The Protection of Badgers Act 1992 makes it illegal for badgers to be persecuted or their setts harmed, but it does allow for a licensing provision, whereby badger setts
can be interfered with, restricted or removed according to strict rules.

Under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, in England and Wales (the law is different in Scotland) it is an offence to: wilfully kill, injure or take a badger (or attempt to do so), cruelly ill-treat a badger, dig for a badger, intentionally or recklessly damage or destroy a badger sett, or obstruct access to it, cause a dog to enter a badger sett, and disturb a badger when it is occupying a sett.

Badgers throughout History

Badgers are one of the most popular and well-known British mammals. Some places have been named after them, such as Brockenhurst in Hampshire and Brockhall in Northamptonshire – brocc is an old English word for badger.

Man has persecuted the badger for hundreds of years and Badger baiting was once the rural ‘sport’ of the ordinary working class, although it is now illegal it is still practised. 

Download Protection of Badgers Act 1992

bTB and Cull

The Conservative government has taken the
decision to continue rolling out the cull. This has
now been extended to a further 11 zones, bringing
the total number of kill zones to 54. This will see
almost 170,000 badgers needlessly and mercilessly
slaughtered since 2013, when the culling first
began.

An Independent Expert Panel appointed by DEFRA assessed the culls as “ineffective and inhumane”
and shortly after reporting on the ineffectiveness of controlled shooting, the IEP was dissolved.

Currently the badger cull has no independent scientific oversight with the government undermining
expert advice and scientific research. The science has been grossly misinterpreted by groups in
favour of the badger cull while independent experts go unheard.

Bovine tuberculosis or bovine TB (bTB) is a highly contagious and deadly disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis). . Cattle are the true hosts of bovine TB and the primary transmission method of the disease in the UK is cattle to cattle transmission.

 

Contact your local MP 

It is political policy driving the badger cull. It is political will that is needed to stop it. Campaigning and lobbying influences political will, so please get writing and make your voice heard.

About Badgers

Frequently asked questions

Badgers are widespread throughout most of Britain and Ireland. They are most commonly found in the South and West, but are scarce in East Anglia, Parts of Scotland and the Midlands.

How long do badgers live?

On average 5 to 7 years, though exceptionally some manage to reach the age of 12 or 13.

What do badgers eat?

Mostly natural foods, worms, beetles, berries, cereals and fallen fruit for example.
They are foragers, not hunters, but like foxes are also opportunists and will feed on carrion, live rodents and newly born rabbits if they come across them.

How can I keep badgers out of my garden?

It’s not easy if they are hungry and food elsewhere is scarce. Strong, well maintained fencing, with thick wire mesh attached and trenched in (to prevent them tunnelling underneath) is the best solution. Electric fencing works but is expensive and often impractical. There are no legal chemical deterrents, but a radio left playing quietly through the night will deter them.

Badgers can carry Tb. If they visit my garden are they a threat to my family?

No. Most badgers are healthy, TB free. Don’t believe the scare stories. TB transmission from badgers to humans is unheard of.
Remember: TB is essentially a respiratory disease requiring close contact. That’s how infected cattle pass TB to others in the same herd sharing the same housing.
To be safe, avoid contact with badger faeces, as you would with all faecal matter.

What happens if my dog disappears down a badger sett?

Be patient. Don’t panic. Don’t damage the sett (that’s an offence). Just wait. Talk quietly in a reassuring voice. Invariably the dog will reappear.
It may take hours, occasionally days. In extreme cases the local Fire Brigade may help. But by law they must wait for two days before digging into a sett.
Best advice – be safe, keep your dog (especially terriers) away from setts and on a lead.

How many times a year does a badger breed?

Just once. Litters average from 3 to 5 cubs, but mortality is high. A cub’s first year is critical. Typically in a litter of five only one or two survive more than a year.

Have badgers got good eyesight?

No. It is regarded as poor. They rely heavily on their exceptional hearing and acute sense of smell.

How can I attract badgers into my garden?

As ever, food is the lure. A regular supply of peanuts, the sort you buy for birds, will attract them. Wait until the light is fading, so birds and squirrels don’t get them first, or put the peanuts in between two house bricks. Badgers are strong enough to move the bricks. They love pieces of fruit; apples, plums and pears especially, but don’t offer them citrus fruits or onions. They’ll devour peanut butter smeared on bread with a great smacking of lips!

Are badgers ferocious and will they attack me, my children or any of my pets?

Badgers would much prefer to avoid conflict wherever possible and will run away back into their setts wherever they can. Like any animal (or human) though – if threatened or injured and cornered, they will defend themselves fiercely.

Where can I watch badgers?

Warwickshire has a large population of badgers, but most setts are on privately owned ground. So if you locate one – look for large mounds of excavated soil – you should ask the landowner’s permission. To watch a sett, always sits downwind, keep still and be patient. Visit http://www.badgerland.co.uk for national details of sites offering badger watching opportunities.