With their bristly bodies, charismatic stripes and bustling behaviour, badgers are one of the symbols of the British Countryside. They have had a mixed relationship with us over the years, and today they still face threats from living in close proximity to urban areas.
Badger baiting, and trapping, are sadly still occurring in the UK, despite these practices being made illegal many years ago. Another threat badgers face are the complex urban roads: as many as 50 – 90, 000 badgers lose their lives to road accidents every year. To counter these threats, the wildlife trusts, local badger groups and charities are all active in trying to educate, inform and engage people in the plight of these beautiful animals.
Most recently, Kent Wildlife Trust Consultancy Services were engaged by Town and Country Housing Group to advise on a badger sett located at one of their recent developments. The site’s residents had concerns that a large, active sett near their homes could be housing territorial badgers! Large piles of soil were appearing in parking spaces and on paths near homes. When badgers are expanding, developing or maintaining their setts, they dig furiously, kicking out large amounts of soil behind them. KWTCS surveyors investigated the issue, mapping the extent of sett entrances, identifying passage routes and looking out for all signs of badger activity.
Having a badger sett so close to your home can be a rare opportunity to observe these beautiful mammals up close, to learn about their mysterious underground lives and above ground antics. KWTCS have agreed a plan with Town and Country to address the issue, aiming to show the residents the positives of having a sett so close to their homes. To do so, an engagement programme is being developed. Leaflets have been designed and distributed to residents, to provide facts and details on the badger’s fascinating hidden lives, as well as detailing ways residents can support the badgers close to them.
In addition, KWTCS is hoping to collaborate with a local badger group to conduct 3 informative talks through the summer of 2021. Residents will be invited along to these to share their thoughts, and discuss how they can live harmoniously with the badgers in their neighbourhood. A citizen science ‘Badger Watch’ project will be put underway, so that residents can become involved in filming the badgers to monitor and share key behaviour data with KWTCS . As part of this there will also be badger-themed photo, drawing and craft competitions for children and adults – with details of the successful entries publicised on the KWTCS website.
As the year progresses out of winter into spring, after raising their cubs underground in the warm, badgers become more active. As temperatures rise, cubs can be seen above ground and activity of adults is also higher. Using the data from the ‘Badger Watch’ we are hoping to find out much more about the resident badger family and to put together a calendar of key activity/behaviours exhibited by these badgers throughout the year. The ambition is that residents will learn much more about their wonderful, sociable neighbours and will become actively involved in protecting both the animals and the local habitats that are important to them.
Keep your eyes peeled for more exciting updates!