PROTECTING BADGERS ON DEVELOPMENT SITES
Due to badgers being highly terrestrial mammal species, development sites can often be used by badgers. Whether they are foraging for food or establishing new setts, it may be likely that you will require a badger survey by law if you are going to disturb them.
This survey thoroughly investigates a site and surrounding habitat for signs of this protected species. The site visit will include an overall assessment of habitat suitability as well as a search for evidence of badgers (footprints, latrines, foraging signs, etc.). Surveys can be undertaken at anytime of year, with optimum times between February and April, coinciding with a peak in territorial activity and a period when vegetation cover is at a minimum, thereby enhancing the probability of detection of field signs. As part of this report, we also include a desktop survey of all records of badger and designated sites within 2km of the site.
Bait Marking Survey
Bait marking surveys are needed if badgers are present within the site and we need to determine population dynamics and site use by the badgers. Bait-marking surveys use badgers territorial behaviour, where they mark their territory boundaries with latrines or dung-pits, to assess this. This method can only be undertaken at certain times of year, principally late February to late April but also between early September and mid-October. Once the population of badgers within the site has been determined JCA can put in place a Mitigation Plan and apply for a Mitigation Licence from Natural England on your behalf.
Badgers and the Law
Under this piece of legislation it is an offense to:
Take, injure or kill a badger
Cruelly ill treat a badger
Interfere with a badger sett
Mark or ring a badger
Sell or possess a live badger
It is important to know whether badgers are using your site, as this piece of legislation can put certain constraints on development if not dealt with at a very early stage. The aim of a badger survey is to determine whether your site is being used by badgers and if so how. This is important as badger commuting routes and foraging habitat must be considered as well as the badger sett. Removing foraging habitat through development can result in badgers starving and so appropriate mitigation must be considered carefully.
Badger surveys can be undertaken all year round, however signs of badger activity are most easily seen between February and April, and again in October. The survey will involve looking for signs of badger activity within and up to a 1 km radius around the site. Badger signs include; the entrances to badger setts, footprints, latrines, hairs, runs and foraging signs. Should evidence be found to suggest badgers are using the site, recommendations will be made on how best to proceed with development.
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