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"What is important about the badger is that it has survived. It is still here. It has not, like so many of our wild animals, the wolf, the wild-boar, as well as the bear, been hunted into extinction. Man might have done his best to wipe it out, but he has failed."
Ernest Dudley

People

Sadly, people kill more badgers than predators and other natural causes put together.

Badgers are still hunted in most of the countries where they live. Many thousands are killed every year, for their fur, meat, or just for so-called 'sport'. In some countries - such as Germany and the USA/Canada badgers are be killed so their hair can be made into badger-hair shaving or painting brushes.

Even in Britain, where badgers are specially protected by the law, some people still dig them from their setts illegally. Badgers are also snared, poisoned and shot. In many cases, badgers killed or injured by snares are "accidental" victims, as the snare may have been set to catch a fox. That said, the animal caught in the snare suffers a long painful period of capture - and possible dies in agony, starved and dehydrated if no-one checks the snare every few hours.

Intensive agriculture and urban sprawl can have more serious effects. Badgers are creatures of regular habit and do not easily adapt to change. Where they are disturbed by development or people interfering with their setts, they often have problems in adapting, and may be forced to move on or die out. Unknown to many people, badgers quite often come into suburban gardens, parks and green spaces to feed.

Persecution by badger baiters who kill badgers for 'fun', and by "old school" gamekeepers who sometimes kill badgers in the belief that they damage livestock, has decimated the badger populations in some areas, particularly South Yorkshire. In Essex, badger populations have declined as a result of agricultural intensification.

Some people are starting to use more modern "technology" or methods to kill badgers. The availability of so-called night-vision equipment has allowed poachers and criminals to see in the dark - which can help them find nocturnal animals and avoid capture (by being able to see approaching gamekeepers or police officers some distance off in the dark). Some hunters also use a technique called "lamping", where a high-intensity searchlight is use to locate animals. The animals rapidly become disoriented by the bright light, at which point they are shot by hunting rifles or caught by Lurchers (a traditional breed of hunting dog).

In rare cases badgers have been poisoned - either accidentally or on purpose. In one famous case, a national pest control company accidentally poisoned some badgers, when they wanted to poison other wildlife instead. It was fortunate for the company that there weren't so irresponsible in their use of poison bait that no children came across the bait. However, the judge did give them a very severe warning, and an enormous fine. Individuals who have poisoned badgers intentionally or who have damaged or blocked their setts intentionally, have been given jail sentences.

Badger Baiters in the News
Here are some links to news stories which feature information about badger baiters:
18 May 2010 - BBC News - Police appeal over badger baiters
14 Jan 2010 - BBC News - Police in Derbyshire search for badger baiters
02 September 2009 - BBC News - Men sentenced for badger digging
18 August 2009 - BBC News - Record fine over badger killings
28 July 2009 - BBC News - Man denies badger killing charges
29 June 2009 - BBC News - 'Killer' badger diggers targeted
27 June 2009 - BBC News - Two men guilty of badger digging
17 June 2009 - BBC News - Badger death Royal worker fined
15 June 2009 - BBC News - Man charged with shooting badger
04 June 2009 - BBC News - Badger and deer crime on the rise
12 March 2009 - BBC News - Dogs seized in cross-border raid
23 February 2009 - BBC News - Blog uncovers badger baiting 'secrets'
23 February 2009 - BBC News - 'Jail badger baiters' says Wilson
22 February 2009 - BBC News - Police raids over badger baiting
02 January 2009 - BBC News - Suspended sentence for gamekeeper
21 August 2008 - BBC News - Gamekeeper threatened with jail
04 Apr 2008 - BBC News - Two 'were caught badger-baiting'
18 Jan 2008 - BBC News - Web images snare badger baiters
Academic Notes:
Mammal Review Mammal Review Volume 39 Issue 1, Pages 53 - 66 - Submitted 31 July 2007
Published Online: 14 Oct 2008
© 2009 Mammal Society/Blackwell Publishing
Managing conflict between humans and wildlife: trends in licensed operations to resolve problems with badgers Meles meles in England

R. J. DELAHAY*, J. DAVISON†, D. W. POOLE‡, A. J. MATTHEWS§, C. J. WILSON¶, M. J. HEYDON** and T. J. ROPER†
*Central Science Laboratory, Sand Hutton, York YO41 1LZ, UK,
†Department of Biology and Environmental Science, University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9QG, UK,
‡Natural England, Government Buildings, Lawnswood, Leeds LS16 5QT, UK,
§Defra, Wildlife Species Conservation Division, Temple Quay, Bristol BS1 6EB, UK,
¶Natural England, Estuary House, Exeter EX2 7XE, UK, **Natural England, Blenheim Office Park, Long Hanborough, Oxford OX29 8LN, UK Correspondence to R. J. Delahay. E-mail: r.delahay@csl.gov.uk

Editor: PB Copyright © 2009 Mammal Society/Blackwell Publishing KEYWORDS Protection of Badgers Act • setts • species licensing • urban wildlife

ABSTRACT

* 1. Successful wildlife management needs to be underpinned by frequent evaluation of the problems arising and the management techniques used to resolve them. The aims of this review were: (i) to investigate spatial and temporal patterns in the occurrence and characteristics of badger–human conflict in England; and (ii) to determine which factors influence the success of management actions. Licences are required before interfering with badgers or setts, so we carried out analyses of records of applications received by Defra and data from follow-up monitoring of management actions.

* 2. The number of licence applications rose significantly during the recording period (1994–2004), with an increasing proportion coming from the east of England and from urban, as opposed to rural, areas. Damage problems caused by setts were the most frequent sources of conflict in both urban and rural areas. However, the majority of rural problems related to agricultural land, whereas buildings and gardens were most affected in urban areas. A higher proportion of problems involved outlier setts in urban areas compared with rural areas.

* 3. The use of one-way gates to exclude badgers from part or all of a problem sett was the commonest management action proposed by Defra Wildlife Advisers, with total sett closure more common in urban, compared with rural, areas. Follow-up monitoring revealed that the success of action varied in relation to the type of sett causing a problem, the type of management action undertaken and the land use (urban or rural) at the problem location, with total closure of an urban main sett being the least successful strategy. This review provides an assessment of current trends in conflict occurrence and will help in the development of management techniques.