Badgers in your garden
Some questions answered
Chatting over the garden fence!
What about my lawn?
Badgers can and do sometimes damage lawns. In extreme cases, they may roll up poorly laid turf, looking for chaffer grubs, or if the lawn if well-watered, it may be a rich source of earthworms. You will see characteristic snuffle holes where they have been rooting around.
Will they attack my pets or be attacked by them?
Badgers are very shy and peaceful animals and although they may have fights about territory with other badgers, they will not attack dogs or cats – or people! They are much more likely to run away. Other animals tend to leave them alone. (In the vicious activity of badger baiting, dogs have to be trained to attack badgers, and badgers are deliberately maimed to ensure a more even contest.)
How can I keep badgers out of my garden?
First, do you really need to? They are unlikely to be a real problem and can be a source of much pleasure. If you are determined to exclude them, it can be difficult. First, the badger is fully protected by law and neither the animal nor its sett can be interfered with except in special circumstances requiring a licence. In the case of gardens this has to be issued by DEFRA. Electric fencing may be a possible solution, particularly to protect a defined area, but this may require a licence and can be costly. Always check carefully. Two types of fence are frequently used to deter badgers; rabbit “Flexinet”, or two strands of electified wire placed at 7.5 and 20 centimetres above ground level. In both cases it is important to ensure that no vegetation is touching the fence, since this will earth it, and in the summer months this will require regular trimming of the grass and other vegetation under control. One major disadvantage in using “Flexinet” in gardens is that although the bottom strand is not live, the first live strand is very close to the ground and fledgling birds, frogs and toads may be electrocuted. This problem is less likely with a two strand electric fence. You also need to place clear warning notices every 100 metres along the fence, otherwise you may be liable for any injury or damage caused by negligence. This still applies even if the fence is entirely in your own garden where the public do not have access. Do not undertake any kind of badger deterrence without careful checking with your local badger group or you may find that you are breaking the law.
What about blocking the hole under the fence?
If a badger is using a hole under a fence, blocking the hole is unlikely to be effective as it will probably make another one alongside. Badgers are powerful animals that can break or dig under most conventional fencing and can climb surprisingly well.
Can I put up a fence?
It is easier to allow the badger access to its traditional route. A fence that will keep out a badger needs to be strong, usually chain link, and 125cms or more high. It should be dug at least 30cms (and preferably 50cms) into the ground ad with a piece at the bottom set at right angles facing outwards from the garden for a distance of about 50cms underground. Alternatively, bending the bottom of a chain-link fence outwards and downwards at an angle of 45° may deter some badgers, but is unlikely to keep out a determined animal. Gateways and other points of entry need to be secure enough to stop a badger squeezing underneath, through, or climbing over. Clearly such a fence is highly expensive to provide and maintain, and is impracticable in most situations.
Will they come all year round?
Digging in lawns and latrine use are largely seasonal activities. Latrine use is most pronounced in the spring, although there may be further activity in the autumn. Similarly, digging lawns for leatherjackets and other grubs is most pronounced in the late autumn and early spring. Since these forms of damage are confined to certain limited periods of the year, many gardeners find it easier to tolerate the nuisance rather than try to exclude badgers form their garden.
At the end of the summer, in particular, you may have a brief visit from a badger which is unlikely to stay longer than a week or so – quite often only a few days – before moving on. It may take up temporary residence under a shed or make a day bed in the corner of your garden.
Who should I contact?
Contact the NFBG for the contact details of your local badger group. There are over 80 throughout the country; they will be happy to give you advice. Even if “your” badger is not a problem, do contact your local badger group so that they can put it on record.
Further advice from:
National Federation of Badger Groups, 2b Inworth Street, London SW11 3EP Telephone: 020 7228 6444 Fax: 020 7228 6555 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.badger.org.uk
Please remember that badgers have suffered much at the hands of humans in this country. Thousands are still brutally killed every year; many more find their traditional homes, their “setts” threatened by humans in other ways. If you have a visiting badger, it is not likely to be a serious problem, is not threat, and may give you much pleasure in watching it.
We hope you will treat it kindly!