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Badger Surveys


Badgers are a widespread species across the UK, but due to their nocturnal habits, are rarely seen. Their burrows, called setts, can vary in size from a single entrance annex sett to an extensive multi-entrance main sett. Territories of badgers also vary. A ground of badgers, called a Clan, can occupy anything from 30 hectares, in an area of food abundancy, up to 150 hectares in an area of marginal habitat.


Because of their wide-ranging habits, and secretive nature, they often go unnoticed prior to developments. It is therefore very important that they are surveyed for, in areas where habitat is suitable. 

The key signs of badgers are;

  • Setts,

  • Well-worn paths,

  • Latrines,

  • Feeding evidence (also called 'snuffle holes'),

  • Hairs (often caught on fences),

  • Discarded bedding,

  • Scratching posts, and

  • Tracks.

These pieces of badger evidence can often be found during a Phase 1 Habitat Survey, thus highlighting the need for further survey-work. If it is likely that badgers may be affected by a development then a specific badger survey will be required.

Badger Legal Status

Badgers are protected under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, in England and Wales , and the      in Scotland). Under these laws, 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.

  • Disturb a badger when it is occupying a sett.


As you can see, it is not only the badgers themselves that are protected, but the setts (borrows) as well. Although they are not protected by the same legislation, this is similar in some ways to bats, newts and otters, all of which are afforded protection of their resting places, even when they are not occupying them at the time. 

Badger Licencing 

As with other protected species however, licences can be granted to permit destructive or disturbing actions, it they can be justified. An example of this might be where a badger sett is discovered on a proposed housing development or road scheme.

Licences are granted by the statutory nature conservation organisation, such as Natural England, Natural Resources Wales or Scottish Natural Heritage. In order to grant a licence, the Authority would need to be satisfied that reasonable efforts have been made to avoid impacts to the badgers.


Mitigation and compensation aims to;

  1. Avoid negative effects.

  2. Use mitigation measures to reduce the impacts.

  3. Use compensation measures to offset any remaining negative impacts for badgers.

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