Photo: Badger (photo by:kallerna (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons)
The European badger (Meles meles) is a characteristic mammal most commonly associated with the British countryside. Although a common species within the UK, badgers remain secretive and hidden throughout much of the day, opting to emerge from their setts (burrows) during the evening and at night. Badgers are omnivores and will eat a variety of foods; with much of their diet consisting of earthworms but are known to also eat slugs, rodents, frogs, cereals, fruits, nuts and grubs. The weight of badgers varies with the seasons being 7-13kg in spring and getting up to the region of 15-17kg in autumn prior to the less active winter months. Badgers live in social groups of up to 14 adults and reside within setts (a series of underground tunnels and chambers) often located on slopes and in sheltered positions. Badgers occupy a large range of habitat types ranging from woods, and copses, to scrub, hedgerows and open fields, they are most abundant in areas with a good mix of habitats; though they can also be found around urban areas and housing developments.
In the past badgers have been prosecuted by man, leading to a major decline in their population. The Protection of Badgers Act (1992) was introduced in order to protect this species from intentional; cruelty such as baiting, poisoning, sett interference and snaring. The act also protects badgers from legal activities such as road and housing developments, forestry and agricultural operations also ensuring that badger culling is permitted only after appropriate exemptions and been classified.
Badgers are protected under The Protection of Badgers Act (1992). This means that it is an “It makes it an offence to kill, injure or take a badger from the wild. It is also an offence to damage or interfere with a sett unless a licence is obtained from a statutory authority”. The maximum sentence is up to six months imprisonment and or a fine of £5000 (the fine can be multiplied depending on number of badgers affected) and the destruction/disposal of a dog that has been used to enter a badger sett.
You should record the presence of protected species on a national database. This can done by contacting the local Statutory Nature Conservation Organisation (SNCO). Alternatively you can record online at the National Biodiversity Network. You should also alert the appropriate land owner, council and or management body to the presence and location of this species. Incidents, dead badgers and setts can be reported to the Badger Trust, for use in further protecting badgers.