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RSPB Spotlight on Badgers book
James Lowen explores the lives of badgers and their communal living, feeding habits and threats to their conservation. Click here to buy:
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Under The Protection of Badgers Act 1992, a licence has to be obtained before a badger sett in a woodland area can be obstructed, damaged, destroyed or disturbed during forestry operations. DEFRA (the people who issue some of the licences) frequently consult with English Nature over the issuing of licences, as they have considerable expertise in dealing with badger problems.

As Forestry operations involved the felling of potentially large trees, there is the risk that falling timber might cause enough of a ground shock or disturbance to cause collapse of the sett or tunnels in and around it. For this reason, the Forestry Authority (and English Nature) have produced a very useful guidance booklet which provides a Code of Conduct for forestry operations. Following the advice does not negate the need to get a badger licence if one is needed, but it does make the circumstances in which a licence is needed that much clearer.

In any event, the intention should always be to protect the badgers and their sett, irrespective of the fine nuances of any legislative details. We would always recommend a cautionary approach for forestry operations, leaving a very wide margin of error when doing things like nearby tree felling and thinning. Remember that the exact effect of ground shocks and heavy impacts on underground tunnels can't be known with certainty. It is also as well to be aware that the badger may have chosen their site because it provides the correct combination of outlook, shelter and ventilation. Felling trees too close to the sett itself, may make the sett too exposed for the badger's liking; and we would ask foresters to remember that the badgers woodland habitat ought to be maintained wherever feasible. A cleared hillside with a single, isolated clump of trees may not be in the best interests of either the badgers or the forestry operations either.


Most forestry operations can be carried out without interference to badger setts provided they are carefully planned and supervised.

Although it is not practicable, desirable nor intended to make all setts 'no-go' areas for forestry operations, the tree crop within the vicinity of setts should be managed with sensitivity in order to minimise disturbance to the badgers.

For this reason the whereabouts of all setts in the woodland should be known. The ideal situation would be to designate the woodland around the sett for indefinite retention in suitable wind firm sites, though with appropriate thinning. If this is not practical in the first rotation, then a broadleaved retention should be aimed at when planning the second rotation. The supervisor should draw the attention of any workers to the sett's presence/position and mark the boundary of an area within 20 metres of any sett entrance by ropes or secure coloured tapes. This is particularly important when the work is carried out by contractors and sub-contractors.

No forestry operations should take place within the marked area during the breeding season i.e. between 1 December and 30 June. If it is not possible to avoid all operations in the area during this period, increase the size of the protection zone and avoid the periods around dusk and dawn.


Where a sett is in a compartment due for thinning, trees in the immediate vicinity of holes should not be felled.

Trees should be felled to avoid falling across holes; and logs should never be left across badger paths and latrines.

All extraction equipment, skidding and racks should avoid the marked sett area.

Fuel, oil and chemical containers must not be used or stood in the marked area around the sett or on badger paths or latrines.Allowing diesel, petrol or any other petro-chemical or noxious substance to leak or spill into a badger sett is a serious offence.

The only exception for the use of chemicals should be where stumps are treated against fungus or rot, when the relatively harmless Urea-based chemicals may be used (whilst avoiding spillage or waste).

Clear felling

A 'tuft' of unfelled trees left in the sett area may be exceptionally exposed to "wind throw", with severe damage to any holes among their roots, these trees should be cut off 1.0-1.5 metres above the ground.It is often the case that the roofs of badger setts will be held up with tree roots, so allow root systems to be vibrated by wind throw is asking for trouble.

These remaining stumps would provide delineation markers of the sett area; and would be a strong barrier to help prevent later damage from machinery. In addition, they would provide a retention of some familiar surroundings for the badgers as well as highly-desirable scratching posts. Retained bark would provide dead wood for insects and, if cut off higher, bird nesting sites or boxes.

New plantings

No burning, ploughing and scarifying should be done within 20 metres of the sett.

No conifer planting should be done in this protected area either, although some sensitive planting of local broadleaved trees around the sett may be desirable.


Damage to setts and deaths of badgers by machinery during forestry operations is illegal; as it is wholly feasible that a forester should and does know of the existence of badger setts. In such cases, criminal prosecutions under The Protection of Badgers Act 1992 should be assumed to be inevitable.

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Legal Notice regarding the banning of Renardine:
Renardine was the only legally permitted chemical deterrent which was effective against badgers. As from the 24th March 2005, Renardine has been banned. Importantly, ALL the approvals for Renardine have now expired. This means that:

* Renardine can no longer be advertised for sale.

* Renardine can not be bought from any shop, wholesaler, mail order, agricultural supplies merchants, internet or by private sale.

* Renardine may no longer be supplied, sold, given away or swapped.

* Renardine may no longer by used.

* Renardine may no longer be stored (so any stocks you have must be disposed of).

RenCoco ( Renardine-impregnated cocoa shells) has also been banned.

For more information see the PSD's web site at http://www.pesticides.gov.uk/approvals.asp?id=1567