A check of nine local badger setts today found plenty of evidence of badger activity. This was particularly welcome in the case of the first two setts visited, as they have been subjected to blocking up for several years.
With certain exceptions, blocking or otherwise obstructing any entrance to a badger sett is an offence under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. Originally the Act included an exception which permitted the obstruction of badger sett entrances for the purpose of fox hunting, providing that this was done in accordance with the conditions laid down in the Act. This exception was however repealed in England and Wales by Schedule 3 of the Hunting Act 2004.
Although the setts in question have been repeatedly blocked up, the resident badgers have been as persistent as the people interfering with their homes. The photo above shows one of the setts’ entrances with a large amount of freshly excavated sandy soil outside, pockmarked with badger paw prints. This was almost certainly done last night. The photo below provides a close-up view of some of the badger tracks in the sand.
Another of the setts checked today was first watched by Steve Jackson back in 1978. Steve arranged badger watching evenings at this sett for over 2,000 people during the years following his initial observations of badgers there, until the brocks abandoned their home a few years ago to take up residence in another of their setts nearby. Since then the badgers have made return visits to their original home, sometimes having cubs in their traditional nursery chambers before moving back to their other sett for the Summer.
Today, over a third of a century on from Steve’s first visit, the sett is still active, with large piles of recently excavated sandy soil outside two of the entrance holes. A close-up view of the furrow leading from one of the holes reveals the marks made by a badger’s claws as a load of soil was dragged out onto the spoil heap.