Priority Species: Badger
1. Protect, maintain and enhance habitat features required by badgers
2. Increase knowledge of the status and distribution of badgers
3. Protect and enhance existing badger populations
4. Protection of wildlife corridors used by badgers.
5. Reduction of sett disturbance
Vision Statement: To maintain the population of Badger in the Durham area and to safeguard its habitat.
|1. To maintain the range of the badger in the Durham BAP area.||maintain||number of active setts||tbc|
The badger is an instantly recognisable animal belonging to the Mustelidae family, a group of mammals that use secretions from the musk glands for communication. They are omnivorous, having a varied diet of nuts, berries, cereals, insects, beetles and small mammals as well as their staple diet of earthworms.
The badger uses a variety of habitats but preference is given to woodland surrounded by pasture with well-drained soil, essential for the excavation of setts. Badgers are principally nocturnal.
Badgers are protected by law under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 because of a long history of persecution and decline. It is illegal to kill, injure or take any badger. It is illegal to damage, destroy or obstruct access to any part of a sett. A licence is needed from Natural England before any work goes ahead which will cause damage to setts or disturbance to badgers.
The Durham Badger Group estimate the number of current active setts at 350, giving a population estimate of between 1000 and 1500 badgers in the Durham BAP area.
Badgers are widely, but not evenly, distributed through the Plan area. Setts are present in deciduous and mixed woodland, hedgerows, scrub, railway embankments, streamsides and old quarries. There has also been settlement in more urban and sub-urban areas.
The altitudinal limit is about 350m above sea level and is linked to habitat availability.
The Durham Badger Group has recorded and monitored setts for over 25 years, and also keeps records of road casualties, persecution incidents and disturbance of setts. Despite this effort there has been no comprehensive survey, and so there are gaps in the data.
- Destruction of habitat – including foraging areas, which can radiate out a mile from the sett.
- Fragmentation of habitat by development of human settlements
- Road traffic is a significant cause of badger mortality each year
- Persecution – including badger digging, badger baiting, use of illegal snares and sett stopping.
- Nationally, there are risks associated with TB and threat of culling but these have not materialised locally.
- Changing farming practices which reduce habitat diversity can lead to a loss of seasonal food items.
- Ignorance of the law – in relation to use of heavy machinery and disturbance around setts.