Everything You Need to Know About Badger Surveys
Arbtech have a team of experts capable of carrying out badger surveys all over the UK. We have many years of experience and we are able to offer fixed prices and fast turn around. Get in touch today to get your project started.
Introduction to Badgers
Badgers are widespread throughout the UK with numbers estimated to be around 300,000 according to a national survey carried out in 1997. Badgers are most common in southern England. They are nocturnal animals and spend most of their time underground in setts. Setts are a network of underground tunnels that badgers dig with their strong claws. Although badgers do not hibernate, they are far less active in the winter months and use fat reserves for energy that they accumulate in late summer and autumn.
They have an elusive nature and most people would be very unlikely to ever see one in the wild. They are very social animals and live in family groups, quite often with around 5 badgers per sett. Badgers belong to the family of mammals known as the Mustelidae family which also includes otters, weasels and wolverines.
Badger Survey Background
Badgers and badger sets are protected under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. Due to their protected status, a report or mitigation plan is required for projects that could pose a threat to badgers and their habitats. A mitigation plan simply shows how you would reduce damage and compensate for any adverse effect to the badgers habitat. Without a suitable plan for avoiding damage to badger habitats, planning permission could be refused. Arbtech would be able to advise on which surveys and mitigation methods would be required for your project.
The Protection of Badgers Act makes it illegal to:
- Kill, injure, possess or mistreat a badger
- Possess a dead badger or part of a badger
- Damage, destroy, obstruct or disturb badger setts
Anyone found guilty of these offences can face a maximum fine of £5000 and a 6 month custodial sentence is also a possibility. This is why choosing a reliable and experienced ecological consultancy is essential.
More on Badger Mitigation
To avoid your development having a negative impact on a badger habitat which could result in planning permission being refused, every effort should be made to avoid negative effects to badgers and their habitats. Examples of what could be done to avoid harming badgers would be:
- keeping heavy machinery, fire and chemicals at a safe distance from badger setts
- loud noises and vibrations should be avoided near active setts
If disturbing the badgers would be unavoidable then a licence to disturb and/or destroy the badger sets on your site could be granted by Natural England. This licence would allow work to be carried out that would otherwise be against the law. Badgers could be excluded from their setts and artificial setts could be set up for them. The badgers foraging habitat would be retained ideally, but a new one could be created if necessary. If new or existing roads posed a threat to the badgers, then tunnels and fencing could be put in place to protect them.
There are a couple of different kinds of surveys for badgers which are explained in more detail below.
The various surveys available are the walkover badger survey and the phase 2 badger survey. A walkover badger survey (otherwise known as a scoping survey) can be done any time of year but the best seasons are the months February through April, and September through November (inclusive). This is because the badger will be active but vegetation growth is less likely to disrupt field signs (Natural England, BAD 4.1).
If the walkover survey confirms that badgers are likely to be present on your development, then a phase 2 survey may be requested by your planning authority.
In general, the walkover survey will look for evidence of badger activity such as setts, tracks and paths, latrines, badger hairs, scratches on surrounding trees and so on.
If badgers are likely to be present at your site, then your local planning authority will probably ask you for a phase 2 survey to confirm their presence or absence. Usually, this involves the sett being observed 3-4 times at sunrise or sunset. However, in our constant pursuit of better customer service, to back this up we can now provide you with with hard evidence (often in the negative, i.e. badgers are not using your property).
We do this by investing in the best technology on the market, and record badger activity using motion-triggered, infrared cameras that record video and still images of activity. Normally these cameras are set up near known or suspected setts. This is an example of footage captured during one of our badger surveys:
A development of a rig we originally set up for use in bat surveys, the new badger cam captures great shots like the one above in Cheam, Surrey. This method has the advantage of giving you peace of mind that if you do have to spend a little extra money to protect or move badgers, at least you know that they are present and this isn’t some phantom idea dreamed up by your local authority.
And of course, knowing the exact population using your site makes applying for a licence a lot easier. We even go as far as to say that you should be able to use this method if you need to survey for badgers outside of the normal season, because despite vegetation growth camouflaging their field signs, as the old saying goes, the cameras never lie.
References: Badgers and Development, A Guide to Best Practice and Licensing, interim guidance document 12/2011, Natural England.
Starting Your Badger Survey
All you need to do is give us a call or fill in our quote form and provide us with some basic details. We will provide a detailed quote to you which explains everything you need to know. We’ll provide the quote via email and if you like it, you can send us a booking form and we’ll arrange a date to carry out your badger survey.
We have offices in Chester, Birmingham and London which gives us wide UK coverage but some of our experts are home based and able to cover almost all of the UK so not matter where you are based, we can probably carry out a badger survey in your area.