Badgers...

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Nate
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Badgers...

Postby Nate » Sun Jul 15, 2018 10:23 pm

I've been fortunate enough to be doing some work in a remote and protected piece of woodland recently. There's a terrific badger sett adjacent to a stream that looks to be very ancient and extensive, with numerous entrances stretching for several metres uphill from the water's edge.

Thing is, a couple of days ago I walked past it and there was a very strong smell of decomposition... One of the entrances was clearly the source, and the presence of flies around this entrance pretty much confirmed that there was something dead down there.

I suppose my question is about whether badgers do actually bury their dead (which I've heard varying reports about), and if not what would they do if a member of the sett died underground? I wondered too if they would take carrion into the sett, but again this seemed to me unlikely as my experience to date suggests that badgers eat what they find where they find it and setts are usually kept very clean. I went past the sett again today, and there were no flies and nor was there any smell...

I know there's people here who know a bit about these amazing animals and would welcome your thoughts.

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Re: Badgers...

Postby boxerman » Sun Jul 15, 2018 10:51 pm

I've heard tales of Badgers dragging the dead out and away from the Sett but I have little idea if that's actually the case tho I'd suspect that it is. Badgers are opportunists and will eat pretty much anything but the largest they'll kill are Hedgehogs (they're the only animal that has worked out to unfurl them). Whilst they would ave the strength to drag a large road kill into a Sett it's not something that I've ever heard of them doing. It may be that one ate poisoned carrion or it may equally be that some unscrupulous farmer laid poisoned bait for them and that all are dead. Setts usually consist of around no more than 8 individuals (the young move on once grown) and entrances collapse, new ones get dug. All I could say is that in the 3 years I monitored a Sett with trail cams I never smelled anything like that. If you're still working there see if you can acquire a Trail Camera and place it near the Sett to see if there's activity. Of course, the ther possibility is that Foxes have moved in and are taking there kill there.
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Re: Badgers...

Postby Nate » Sun Jul 15, 2018 11:21 pm

Thanks for that information Phil - very interesting. There were signs of fresh excavation - newly dug earth, still moist - outside the entrance that the smell seemed to be coming from on the day I first noticed it. Looked like typical badger digging, but I didn't know that foxes used old setts so that's something to think about. It's a fair way from the nearest road so roadkill is unlikely. There is a farm nearby that raises cattle, so your suggestion about deliberate poisoning is worryingly possible...

Don't think I could get a trail camera anywhere near, but I might take some peanuts along next time and see if they get eaten overnight - not definitive I know but it might show me if there are still badgers about...
Last edited by Nate on Wed Jul 18, 2018 9:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Badgers...

Postby boxerman » Sun Jul 15, 2018 11:29 pm

Leaving peanuts will tell you little other than something ate them. Anything in the area from fox to woodmouse will clear them up in no time. Whereabouts in the country are you?
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Re: Badgers...

Postby Nate » Sun Jul 15, 2018 11:32 pm

I'm in Somerset Phil, and the woodland is a private estate north of Taunton - about 60 acres of mixed deciduous. I'm not sure what the status of the badger cull is around there either but I know that several local setts near where I live (south of Taunton) seem to have disappeared.

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Re: Badgers...

Postby Galactic Greyhound » Sun Jul 15, 2018 11:35 pm

You might want to consider reporting what you have found as Badgers and their setts are protected under law:

https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfa ... ld/badgers
Ced.

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Re: Badgers...

Postby Nate » Sun Jul 15, 2018 11:53 pm

That's a good idea Ced, I'll have a read through that.

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Re: Badgers...

Postby Mjolinor » Mon Jul 16, 2018 7:32 am

They may not actively hunt things much bigger than a hedgehog but they will defend the sett against anything. They will make a real mess of a dog if it goes in there or if a dog is pushed in there by some scroat that thinks it's fun.

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Re: Badgers...

Postby boxerman » Mon Jul 16, 2018 8:43 am

I would not report the sett as you may be notifying a sett that is not known about - do that and there are dangers of someone either legally or illegally destroying it. Bear in mind that Somerset is in a cull area.
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Re: Badgers...

Postby boxerman » Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:12 am

Just as a matter of interest if you have the time take a photo of the entrance that's freshly dug and post it.
Phil Hawksley 'The Boxer Man' - aka 'Dangermouse'
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Re: Badgers...

Postby Nate » Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:50 am

I would not report the sett as you may be notifying a sett that is not known about - do that and there are dangers of someone either legally or illegally destroying it. Bear in mind that Somerset is in a cull area.
That's a sobering thought Phil...
Just as a matter of interest if you have the time take a photo of the entrance that's freshly dug and post it.
I'll be back there on Wednesday and will take a few photos then - obviously the fresh dirt will likely have dried out, but you'll get the general idea.

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Re: Badgers...

Postby Nate » Wed Jul 18, 2018 5:24 pm

Just as a matter of interest if you have the time take a photo of the entrance that's freshly dug and post it.

Here's a couple of pics of the entrance that had fresh dug earth outside it - hard to spot now but the new spoil is in the bottom right of the lower pic. No smell of decomposition evident today.
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Re: Badgers...

Postby boxerman » Wed Jul 18, 2018 9:07 pm

Definitely Badger and well used entrance too. At least the pic confirms that the Sett hasn't been dug by baiters. Not much you can do except hope that all is well.

If you'e been working there you have me intrigued. What's the job?
Phil Hawksley 'The Boxer Man' - aka 'Dangermouse'
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Re: Badgers...

Postby Nate » Wed Jul 18, 2018 9:29 pm

Definitely Badger and well used entrance too. At least the pic confirms that the Sett hasn't been dug by baiters. Not much you can do except hope that all is well.

If you'e been working there you have me intrigued. What's the job?
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Phil - good to hear the sett appears undisturbed. What time in the evening do you reckon the badgers would emerge? I might be able to stay late one evening and I'd be keen to find out if it's a live sett.

I've been taking photographs and documenting the woodland as part of an ongoing project with the charity that now owns it. Much of the woodland was planted as an 18th century arboretum and landscape garden. It's mostly been left to its own devices for the last few decades and much of it is now overgrown with laurel but there are some splendid old trees there.

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Re: Badgers...

Postby boxerman » Wed Jul 18, 2018 9:54 pm

Most of the year they emerge around dusk but with luck on these long days it'll be earlier. It's certainly not an abandoned Sett and assuming they haven't all been killed they'll still be there. Scent is your biggest enemy as they rely on that for most things so ensure you're downwind - the other alternative, if you have the time would be to place a used article of clothing close by a few days and they'll get used to the scent.

Sounds like you have a wonderful job - what's the project aimed at?

Sadly most UK woodland has been badly neglected for a long time because most are simply not financially viable - it's not good for the Flora or the Fauna or the ecology in general. I don't think, other than filling pheasant feeders, my woods had been touched in 40 odd years and it was like a ghost town but is now slowly beginning to come back to life.
Phil Hawksley 'The Boxer Man' - aka 'Dangermouse'
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Re: Badgers...

Postby Nate » Thu Jul 19, 2018 8:37 am

Thanks Phil - I'll do as you suggest and see if I can catch sight of them.

I suppose I'm just helping gather information at the moment. Parts of the woodland are being returned to how they would have been when it was in private ownership, so paths are being cleared and dead trees felled. In many ways this wood was lucky - it fell to the Crown Estates after WW2 and their neglect, while not ideal for the woodland, at least saved it from a worse fate at the hands of developers.

Slightly off topic, but some of the information about the history of the woods came from digitised maps held by the National Library Of Scotland. There's six inch OS maps on the website from the 19th Century that show amazing detail: https://maps.nls.uk/


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