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of badgers

Badger Footprints

Badger Information

Badger Senses

Senses

Badgers have poor eyesight, but they compensate for this by their good hearing and exceptionally acute sense of smell, which is 700 - 800 times keener than that of a human! Smell is used to seek out food and to detect other animals, man, or any kind of a threat.

The whiskers near their noses and eyes are also used to detect food.

Badger Diet

Diet

Badgers will eat most things! In the wild, their favourite food is earthworms which make up the greater part of their diet, but they will also eat beetles and insects, eggs, grubs (even from wasps' nests), elderberries, brambles and fallen fruit. Evidence of this can be seen in their latrines. They forage in gardens and rubbish bins, taking whatever thrown-out food they can find and strewing the contents of the bins widely. House owners who have badgers visiting their premises regularly have reported how they will eat a wide range of food: dog biscuits, nuts, sandwiches (especially with peanut butter), pizza, cake and so on.

In the summer months, badgers forage at the extremes of their territories, thus saving the nearer areas for searching in the colder months.

Badger Sett

Sett entrance showing paw prints

Active Badger Sett

Entrance to an active sett

Setts

The ideal conditions for a badger sett are easy-to-dig sandy soil, preferably on a gentle slope, under trees and with a source of water nearby. However, they may just decide to build in a flat open field or even on a river bank.

A well-established sett may have up to 12 entrances, with a whole maze of passages and chambers underground. The chambers, which are lined with regularly-changed straw or hay, are used for sleeping and giving birth to cubs.

There are four types of setts:

  • The Main sett
    Normally one per badger group, it has many well-used entrances and tracks, with large spoil heaps
  • The Annexe
    Usually about 50m - 100m from main sett and attached by well-worn tracks. May not be used all year round
  • The Subsidiary
    Not connected by paths, not in regular use
  • The Outlier
    Small sett with only one or two entrances, not connected by paths, not in regular use

Facts about setts

  • Two to three cubs are born around February and emerge from the sett in April or May
  • Badgers don’t soil their setts, but use a scraped-out delve in the earth outside the sett as a latrine
  • Entrances to setts are always oval in shape, the shape of the badger’s body
  • Badger hairs found near setts on twigs and fences, are oval in section and indicate that a sett is occupied
  • Active and well-used setts can be identified by the large spoil-heaps of earth nearby and also piles of discarded straw or grass used as bedding
  • Badgers are often called Britain’s oldest land-owners as some setts date back hundreds of years
Badger Dangers

Hole dug by badger baiters going about their evil work

Dangers

Badgers have no natural enemies except man, but what an enemy! They are harmed indirectly, directly by "official" means and directly by criminals.

  • Indirect means: Badgers have long-established and well trodden trackways which sometimes cross roads, resulting in the death of many badgers in RTAs. Badgers are also killed when their setts are disturbed by development, farming and forestry. Also by hunts stopping up sett entrances to prevent foxes escaping underground
  • By "Official" direct killing of badgers we mean the badger cull, set up by the Government in a futile effort to control bovine tuberculosis, whereby thousands of perfectly healthy badgers are shot
  • Direct killing by criminals: This covers the despicable digging-out of setts by badger baiters, whose disgusting "sport" involves setting dogs to fight badgers and betting on the outcome

Sett Interference - What can I do?

If you know or suspect that digging is happening at a badger sett, inform the Police and your local Badger Group IMMEDIATELY.

If digging is actually in progress or about to happen, phone 999. Be clear and precise about the location of the sett and give as much information as you can : number of people involved, are spades or guns being carried? are dogs present? Note types and registrations of vehicles (often 4 x 4s) and if possible, take a photo. Vehicles may be known to the police from previous events.

Early Sunday morning is a favourite time for baiters and diggers to start their work. They communicate by social media to plan which sett they intend to attack next, and seem to work a circuit, hitting one sett then another. They never take ALL the badgers from one sett – taking three is frowned upon. After all, they need to leave some alive to provide "sport" for future years.

  • If you find evidence that digging has occurred earlier, phone 101 and ask for the Police Wildlife Officer and again, give as much detailed information as you can, be sure to ask for a Crime Reporting Number
  • If you find an injured badger or other animal, contact the RSPCA
  • Take photos of any disturbance and any items left lying around

Remember that badgers are protected by the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 and it is a criminal offence to interfere with a badger or its sett.

DO NOT ENDANGER YOURSELF
DIGGERS AND BAITERS ARE DANGEROUS!

© East Yorkshire Badger Protection Group 2018
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