Saturday, 21 November 2015

Badger Reclamation

A couple of months ago one of the Badger setts I keep an eye on experienced some serious disturbance. I don’t at this point believe it was an intentional act, more collateral damage from the carrying out of routine tasks on the land. The sett in question had been collapsed and practically filled in by being ploughed over while the field itself was being cultivated ready for its winter crop.

This is a small sett containing only three badgers, a large boar and two sows. For a couple of weeks after the damage to the sett, no badger sightings or activity was recorded. The well used latrines I am aware of remained unused, grass started to grow over once well used trails, and the sett main entrance remained blocked with soil. I feared the worst.

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Then, one morning about three to four weeks after the damage, I noticed some fresh digging that had occurred at the damaged sett during my early morning walk. This gave me some hope that maybe this small colony of badgers had survived. The fresh workings had not reopened the old main entrance, but were tucked away under the hedgerow, it looked like the sett was being opened up again.

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We walked the fields around the sett early mornings, evenings, and well into darkness hoping to see the badgers in the places I used to watch them. No badgers were seen!

Then a discovery, well away from the original sett in some sandy loose soil we found a blind sett. I felt this was probably temporary accommodation for a returning badger while the old sett was reworked and reopened.

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A week later and I found another blind sett, dug in firmer soil, again, a fair way from the original sett.

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A few more weeks slipped by and one morning I noticed that the new main entrance to the original sett had bedding material airing outside.

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There were also footprints in some of the other tunnels.

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So the good news is, there is still a fighting chance this sett will carry on housing badgers, but I still have concerns.

I have now had visual contact on several occasions over the last three weeks of the inhabitants of this sett, or to be more specific, inhabitant.

I have only seen the old boar and there have been no sightings of the two females. I am hoping that they are about. Maybe they are using one of the blind setts while the old sett is being repaired. I hope so! I will be keeping my eye on this sett, as I always do and hope to report that the family group have again taken up residence in the original sett.

Visual contact now gets more difficult as we are well into November. The temperatures have dropped and winter in beginning to make its presence felt. The badgers will spend more time below ground and their activities will become less predictable. They don’t hibernate, but in extreme conditions when food is scarce they will just conserve energy and stay curled up in the sett. If there are any female badgers still resident in this sett, they will give birth in Jan/Feb. I hope this is the case.

By March the boar will also become more active and will patrol his territory looking for females. This boar has show he is a resilient old fellow, and if the original females are no more, I hope he finds more on his spring travels and hopefully, they repopulate this little sett.


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