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Binfield Badger Group

Protecting Badgers in Berkshire
Charity number: 1075886

About Badgers

There are approximately 288,000 badgers in the United Kingdom. This may seem like a large number, but an estimated 45,000 are killed in road accidents every year. Combined with the persecution of badgers by people who believe that killing them is a sport and the reduction of suitable habitat by developers, you may see why the badger is an endangered species in many parts of the UK.

  Foraging Badger. Copyright J Fennell

The European badger (Meles meles) can be found in most parts of Great Britain, with its black and white striped face being a familiar conservation symbol. In the past the badger’s predators would have been bears and wolves, but since their extermination, badger’s only predator is man, his car and his bulldozer.

Badgers’ setts are found in areas which provide shelter, security and an adequate food supply, especially deciduous woodland near pasture. Badgers live in a social group, following long established pathways. They impregnate both their territory and other members of their social group with their particular group scent. Badgers are found throughout Berkshire, local sett records are constantly updated to give an accurate picture of the badger’s status in the County.

Badgers tend to feed alone, often only coming together to search for food in the best areas. Their main food is the earthworm, they can eat 200 per night. When worms are not available, during droughts or when the ground is frozen, badgers will take whatever is available, such as fruit, insects, cereals, and grubs.  When they do socialise or have an argument, you may be lucky to hear them kecker. In fact they appear to have a reasonable vocabulary and the following linked page allows you to hear the range of sounds they often make

Adult badgers protect, discipline and groom their young. They are very house proud and do not intentionally interfere or disturb anyone. The average boar (male) weighs 11 kg and is approximately 90 cm in length. Sows (females) are generally smaller and lighter. The central point of any badger territory is the main sett, which consists of a series of tunnels and chambers. Sett identification can be difficult, but there are several distinguishing features;

  • The holes will continue into the ground between 200 & 300mm from the roof to the tunnel floor.
  • Most setts in woodland will have exposed tree roots at the entrances.
  • The entrances usually dip down and up as they disappear from view.
  • Spoil heaps at the entrance may contain used bedding materials, such as grass and leaves, it may also contain large stones and coarse badger hair. You may also be able to see badger footprints around the opening to the sett. A typical badger territory may be from 40 to 180 hectares in size and may house from 2 to over 15 animals. The size of the social group depends largely upon the amount of food available.
  Typical Badger 'Spoil heap'. Copyright J Fennell

Protection & Persecution

Badgers are protected by law. The Badger Act of 1992 was introduced to protect setts and their occupants. This has not stopped badger diggers, who send their dogs into setts and then trap the badgers, all in the name of “sport”. They may then kill the badgers themselves or sell them to badger baiters who will fight them against their dogs, inflicting horrific injuries on all of the animals involved. Because of the badger’s great strength, it is a formidable opponent, enduring extremes of misery and punishment before death. Badgers are also tormented by snaring, shooting, gassing, poisoning and lamping. It is the persecution of these animals that has given us the term to “badger” somebody. Please help us by reporting any suspicious activity near a sett immediately. If you see anyone with spades, dogs, nets, tongs or cages, ring the Police 999 and RSPCA at once. Record everything you see, including vehicle registration numbers, but do not approach the suspects, they are often as violent towards humans as they are towards badgers.

Road Casualties

Unfortunately the only sighting that many people have of badgers is by seeing a road casualty. The Department of the Environment can sanction and finance badger fencing to keep them away from roads. It can also divert the animals through underpasses if a new road cuts across their established pathways. This benefits both humans and badgers, as they can cause cars to swerve at speed, causing unnecessary accidents.

  Badger road casualty. Copyright J Fennell

It is important that dead badgers are reported to us as soon as possible, so that they can be removed from public view, as this may give away the location of a sett. If you see an injured badger please contact the RSPCA and the local Badger Group as quickly as possible. Many injured badgers can be treated and returned to their own sett. Injured badgers need to be handled with caution, any frightened wild animal will be defensive. Whether injured or dead, please note the exact location.