With an estimated 288,000 badgers in the UK, it isn’t surprising to find badgers living alongside our active and derelict waterways. Setts can be found in embankments or cuttings; these provide optimal conditions for digging. Rural canals and navigations also provide a mosaic of habitats ideal for badger ecology. Depending on available habitat, landscape features, abundance of badgers, ecological corridors and food, the size of the home range can vary from 30 hectares in an optimum habitat to as large as 300 hectares in a poor habitat.
If the presence of badgers is known or is thought to be located near a proposed canal restoration site, then prior to restoration, destruction or building work, a badger survey should be part of the planning application, especially if the works could potentially affect the badgers. If it is deemed that badgers would be affected by the works a mitigation plan should be submitted to the planning authority and a licence acquired from the appropriate Statutory Nature Conservation Organization (SNCO). Depending on the necessity of works, mitigation options provided and whether the work would actually affect badgers, work would be either permitted or sent back to planning.
Examples of activates that may require a licence are:
Using hand tools or carrying out other lighter tasks such as scrub clearance within 10m of active badger sett entrance.
It can be difficult to determine whether a sett is active, especially in winter months where activity is at its lowest. The best indication of an active sett is recently excavated materials into a mound nearby the sett entrance. Generally speaking an active sett is also well maintained, for example a sett entrance in summer with an excess of fallen foliage, twigs and other materials could indicate that this entrance is not in face being used. Other indicators includes fur, prints and paths.
More detailed information can be found on the Badger Trust website.
Photo: Badger close up (photo by:By kallerna (Own work)) via Wikimedia Commons
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.