Archive for the ‘Police’ Category

One-way gates have been reported on a badger sett…

Saturday, November 7th, 2015

We have been emailed about one-way badger gates which have been fitted to a badger sett. These may be used under licence to exclude badgers from a sett; so they can be moved into another sett. The person who contacted us was worried about the badgers; and whether they would be driven into making a sett in his own garden. Here is the text of our email reply.


Badgers live in an underground home called a sett. The sett (i.e. the land area which contains the entrance holes, the tunnels and nesting chambers) is a protected structure. This means that the sett can not be closed, damaged or interfered with in any way. The exception is where some-one has obtained a licence from Natural England to do something which would otherwise be illegal.

Given your message, I assume that a badger licence-type activity is what is happening in your locality. The likelihood is that a landowner has used a badger consultant or an ecologist (or maybe even the local badger group) to obtain a licence on their behalf. Whilst it would be polite to let immediate neighbours know of the licence application; this does not always happen. Both the granting of the licence and its terms/conditions are protected by the Data Protection Act, so that Natural England will not disclose the details to you; unless the landowner asks them to. Professional developers will be aware that the presence of badgers on a site may prevent or delay planning permission; which is a risk factor they would try to avoid. Sometimes therefore you do find developers who try to make sure that badgers (and other protected species, such as water voles, bats, etc) are moved out of the way before they apply for planning permission. Note that development does not always mean new housing; as it could include business, industry, pipelines or cables. It can also mean that the badgers are being moved because they are becoming a danger to themselves (such as by extending their sett underneath a busy road) and it is commonsense to move them before a tunnel collapse might cause a serious traffic accident.

Badger licences are normally granted because there is a genuine need to move the sett. Some-one just not liking the idea of them coming into a garden to forage for worms is not a serious enough reason – even if they cause lawn damage. The licence process is looking for a serious health and safety reason (such as building/road subsidence or digging into a flood defence) or because of a need to move the sett to allow the development to take place. There is no provision in the law to simple render the badgers homeless or to have them killed. This is why a badger licence will normally require the landowner to build a new artificial sett for the badgers nearby. The licence will then normally require that the badgers are monitored to see that they have been accessing the artificial sett. This may require night-time observations or the use of infra-red wildlife cameras. Once it is clear the artificial sett has been explored by the badgers; the process of closing down the natural sett can start. If the badgers do not seem keen on the artificial sett; they may be encouraged to use it by being fed things like wet dog food nearby.

The sett exclusion normally starts with fitting metal badger gates to the natural sett entrances and leaving them as two-way gates for a few days. Then a metal “stop” peg will be placed on the gates to make sure the badgers can emerge from the natural sett and not return. The idea is that this forces them into taking up residence in the artificial sett. Again, the badgers need to be monitored during this time; as they are likely to make extremely persistent efforts to return to their real home. It should be expected that the sett area may need to be covered with many square metres of strong tennis-court-type galvanised steel netting. Ideally this will stop them simply digging new entrance holes to get back into their home. Even if steel netting is in place, the badgers are likely to try to get underneath it or break through it where it may be joined or where it may abut fence posts or trees. In the case of an outlier sett, the badgers may give up on their natural sett after a few attempts at getting back in. Outlier setts (maybe 1 to 4 entrance holes) will not be in use by all the badgers of the clan and may be unoccupied for several months of the year. However, a main sett (maybe 6 to 50 entrances) is a different problem; as this will be the main home of the whole clan and will be in continuous occupation. In the case of very old badger setts; they may have been using the same sett for hundreds of years; so closing a main sett is often fraught with real difficulty.

Another complicating factor is that badger licences (and the work they permit) are time-limited, as described on the following page:
If you were to put one-way gates on a badger sett in the early part of the year this could cause young cubs to starve to death. If the sett was closed in December, the stress could cause female badgers to lose any unborn cubs. Therefore a sett can be closed only from the beginning of July through to the end of November. In other words, if the badgers have not been totally excluded by the last day of November; the sett-closure process needs to be abandoned and restarted again from the beginning of July in the following year. Hence, there will be a great deal of pressure at your sett to make sure the one-way gates remain intact and there is no re-entry back into the old sett over the next few weeks. In the case of commercial developments, I have known cases where security guards have been employed to make sure that one-way gates were not damaged; as this would cause a huge delay to the development.

Proof of badgers being excluded from the real sett will need to be established in one of several different ways. Firstly, infra-red cameras may be in place. Secondly, ecologists may be looking for signs of current badger activity inside the natural sett (fresh footprints, fresh dung, fresh scent marking, unbroken spider webs across entrance holes, etc). The ecologist will need to be able to show that there have been at least a certain number of consecutive days of no evidence of badgers being back in the old sett. Once he/she has the evidence, the sett will need to be closed as soon as possible. This should take place under the direction of an ecologist; and can included filling the tunnels with concrete foam or excavating it with a JCB-type digger or some combination of the two. The ecologist should be equipped with a means of catching a badger from the old sett so it can be put into the new one.

Note that the specific details of the dates, the number of consecutive days of “no badgers” and the closure methods will be given in the licence document. If he has any common-sense, the ecologist will have the licence document with him. If he were to be carrying out any unlicensed sett interference or destruction, he would be liable to arrest by the Police for damaging a badger sett or causing harm to badgers.

Of course, the issue for you; is that what will the badgers do next.
In some cases the badgers like their new home and live there quite happily. If the artificial sett has been built so they can expand it by adding their own new tunnels and chambers, this is more likely to be the case.
In others they just don’t seem to like the new sett and make ongoing efforts to return to their old sett (even if it may have been damaged or destroyed).
They may also try to expand old fox/rabbit holes or, in extreme cases, take residence under sheds or decking.
At other times, they may use the new sett for a few weeks or months and then decide to explore the area looking for a bit of sloping ground which is above the water table and try to dig their own sett in there.
It is difficult to predict without detailed knowledge of the area and how badger use the locality. We would expect the ecologist to be the best person to have this knowledge.

As for keeping badgers out of a garden, our advice on suitable fencing is on the following page:
There is a lot of advice on there, so I’ll let you read it. That said, badger-proof fencing is not really the nicest looking fencing in a domestic garden. Of course, with enough reason to come into a garden, badgers may well just wander up and down open driveways and footpaths if they are not stressed out by the noise of people or barking dogs.

Hence, it is worth inspecting the perimeter of your property to see where badgers could come through hedges or fences; as well as squeeze or tunnel under any other barriers.
Badgers can climb very well; so it is worth looking for lines of scratches on walls and fences if you suspect they may be climbing in.
Footprints and scratch marks left by badgers are shown on the following page:

If there is a risk that badgers or foxes may expand small gaps or holes to get underneath sheds or garages; it is a lot easier to fill any gaps with concrete or secure steel mesh before any animal can take residence.
Particularly, with badgers, eviction can be a lot of trouble; as an established badger sett under a garage/shed is just as protected under the law as a sett in a woodland.

It is also worth thinking about why badgers come into gardens. This is normally to get to food (earthworms on a lawn, bird nuts, windfall fruit, carrion, pet food, food waste bins or bin bags) or to gain access to another garden where they are fed. The key thing is to make sure that there is no excess bird food or other food waste; either in your own garden or left out by any neighbours who like to feed birds, badgers or foxes. The issue with windfall fruit is highly seasonal and the best way may just be to tolerate this for a few weeks. It can sometimes help if you dump windfall fruit in a non-contentious place (such as in a quiet corner of an adjacent field); as this can give badgers a decent feed and can reduce the risk of them causing lawn damage, etc. This is what is known as so-called “distraction feeding”. Note that over-feeding can just encourage more badgers to come by which can make a modest problem worse.

More generally, so far as feeding is concerned, badgers are likely to be forage in an area from anything from 20 to 200 acres. Hence, their feeding patterns are not likely to be massively disrupted by the closure of a small outlier-type sett. It is normally disruption of access to their foraging areas (grassland) due to new roads; or the loss of habitat due to housing/industrial estates that does the real damage to their ability to thrive.

Moving forward, it is probably worth having a sneaky look around any neighbours or the sett area to see if the ecologists are providing food  near the new sett, as well as to see if any wildlife cameras can be spotted. Wildlife cameras are often in a green/brown camouflage pattern and will either use invisible infra-red light or (perhaps) show a very faint red glow from any LED illumination at night. These cameras typically work duding daylight hours too; so they may record other species and human activity.

Also, could I ask that you contact the local badger group to let them know of the potential badger issues in your area.
I’m sure they would be interested to know of the badgers nearby. They may also wish to get involved if any planning applications pose a risk to badgers or their loss of green fields or other vital habitat.

With many thanks

Simon Flory
Badger Specialist

Direct Action on the Badger Cull

Monday, August 26th, 2013

A cancer at the heart of government

The issue of the politics of farming has been a long term plan for about 10,000 farmers in the upper echelons of the NFU’s 55,000 members. They have managed to sneak their way on to the DEFRA management team and into leadership positions within Natural England. These people now maintain a corrupting and cankerous core at the heart of government – recent Freedom of Information Requests show without any doubt that they have conspired with the NFU to bring in a cull of Britain’s badgers.

Mass animal killing when there is a vaccine?

The badger cull is nothing other than a mass killing of badgers which will do next to nothing to reduce bovine TB infection rates in cattle. Indeed, better testing measures and restricted measures to move potentially infected cattle are already reducing the infection rates in cattle before any badgers are shot by the NFU. Using more accurate cattle TB tests; and using the TB vaccine on high and medium risk cattle herds could make bovine TB almost a thing of the past in many cattle-farming areas of Britain. The NFU’s twisted logic of avoiding the TB vaccine is the same as saying you’d kill the first of your children who got measles, polio or diphtheria to try to stop it from infecting the others. The logic of a £10 TB vaccine, is that you can protect a badger or a valuable beef animal or a productive high-yield milker for their whole life; without the upset of either culling or financial embarrassment at Barclays. The government agreement that the NFU will be able to shoot 100,000 badgers will leave huge parts of the UK with no badgers; will make no serious difference to the 4,000 cattle which are shot under farm TB management rules and regulations.

The effective end of badger protection laws?

The NFU’s appalling and bloody massacre of thousands of healthy badgers will start very soon it seems. Of course, the Conservatives who run DEFRA seem to think their job is to pursue their own narrow-minded pro-hunt interests against the environment. We have seen numerous examples of soft-treatment of grouse-moor owners and shabby treatment of wildlife (buzzards, eagles, hen harriers, gulls, corvids, etc). The badger is a case in point. The issue with the two “trial” badger culls is NOT to cut bovine TB (as all the dead ones will be burnt before they are TB tested). The badger cull is not about science or research or learning, it is simply a new bloodsport brought in under the cover of assessing whether they can kill enough badgers over a six-week long shooting festival. Less than 1% of dead badgers will be checked to see whether they had instant humane deaths, so many badgers will die long painful inhumane deaths. If the hunter’s guns can inflict enough casualties on the protected badger populations of Somerset and Gloucestershire; they will roll out a plan across all or most of England’s counties over the next 25 years. To all intents and purposes, the badger cull signals the effective end of the various laws which protects the badger from persecution.

An e-petition sought to change the government policy on the killing of badgers. DEFRA have ignored this – the most popular such e-petition ever – arrogantly dismissing the views of nearly 270,000 UK voters, simply because 10,000 farmers want to use the badger as a scapegoat. As well, and possibly of greater importance, are the views of the top scientists from the UK and overseas. There is no peer-reviewed scientific paper which states that culling badgers will make a major impact on the reduction in TB in cattle. If you have a government which point-blank refuses to listen to every top scientist on one of the most important science-problems in animal health, you’ve got to question not just their ability to govern, but also their ability to think.

The “failed” NFU injunction

The NFU has rightly been subject to some criticism. They responded to this criticism so “well” they went to court to try to get an injunction banning any-one from protesting in Somerset or Gloucestershire and several other counties. In effect their injunction was so watered down by the Judge in the High Court, all it really says is that badger cull protesters should not break the law as it already existed before the cull was agreed. So, if you are a lawful protestor, you have no worries from the NFU or the Police, as injunctions are not a police matter. Even if you are what some people claim might be an “unlawful” protestor, do you have genuine worries in the real world? People skilled in the arts of sabbing hunts seem to think that the badger cull protests will not be badly affected by the NFU injunction anyway. Our advice, for what it’s worth, is that the hunt sabs have the skills, experience and the legal know-how on their side. Any-one wanting to protest the badger cull in a direct action type of manner would be well advised to join the hunt sabs organisations, buy the clothing and the kit; and know what to do and what to say in what circumstances. Despite the rabid rantings of the pro-hunt animal abusers and twitter trolls; every single hunt sab we have ever met prides themselves on their non-violent stance. They do not want to meet violence with violence; they just want to see animals live their wild or domestic lives free from torture, hunting and abuse.

But how do we move forward in the protest against the badger cull?

We have done everything we can as law-abiding citizens to persuade the government to change their minds and follow the people and the science to vaccinate rather than exterminate. We have twice written to our local (twice married, but against gay marriage) MP, Craig Whitaker. His “copy and paste” idiotic response suggests he is a man who shows every sign of being outwitted by a blunt pencil. Owen Paterson, David Heath and Richard Benyon are all pro-hunt; are have all been put in place by the grouse-shooting stag-hunting fox-hunting Prime Minister. So long as Cameron is in the office; the Etonians, aristocrats and the idiotic backbench wannabes will pursue their own interests, even though 65,000,000 plebs disagree with them. Given that this government don’t listen, and we can’t afford NFU-style bribes or Monsanto-style jobs for “after politics”, all we can say is that we are done with them as voters. In exactly the same way that the Conservatives lost “Yorkshire” when they shut down their coal mines, for a generation they will lose the votes of all the people who think that wildlife is for watching not for hunting or shooting.

Dr Brian May – Brock God

We continue to be big supporters of the scientist, rock guitarist and national treasure Brian May and his campaigning for the future of badgers and farming, but the e-petition will close soon; and the government will ignore it unless the NFU sign it. Initially we thought he might be a celebrity distraction, but he has campaigned very well and shown up the NFU for what they are on every occasion they have had the balls to debate with him. Odd how the NFU don’t seem to want to debate with him any more… Brian, you are a hero for wildlife – we would hope that your work for wildlife will be seen as your best work to date.

Organics is “Dead Badger” Milk Nowadays

We continue to be big supporters of the Badger Trust, Secret World, the Badger Protection League, Save Me, the League Against Cruel Sports, the Hunt Sabs Association and their many county groups, as well as the RSPCA. As “wildlife” people we have a huge affinity with all wildlife groups and we are grateful for the full support of the many raptor-watch groups; and the quiet (if not whispering) support of the WWT and the RSPB. The one group we thought would be in favour of wildlife was the Soil Association; but they have allowed their big-business supporters to poison the organic movement, so that organic dairy milk may as well be “dead badger” milk nowadays.

Peaceful Protests?

For any-one who has not been on a protest, I would strongly recommend doing so, as you meet some great people and you can show your support for wildlife and shout out about how the government is so very badly wrong. Organisations like the Secret World, Badger Trust, Somerset Badger Patrol and others organise peaceful protests, suitable for kids and critters, young and old and everyone from the gentle grannie through to the experienced sabber. When you retire, I’m sure you’d rather have a story to tell that you did something real, rather than grumbling about it being a shame; so please be out there.

If you can’t get to the culling fields of Somerset and Gloucestershire, you can help people who can by supporting them to buy things like fuel for vehicles, torches, mobile phones and so on.

We try to list the various support funds on our web-site on this page – they do change from time to time:

Direct Action is the Answer Now

Importantly though, the bloody badger cull is now imminent, so what is needed NOW is direct action in the woodlands and fields of England to save the lives of badgers.

There are so many direct action groups now, that the NFU had to include the term “unknown persons” in their injunction to try to include them all.

One great organisation to support are the Hunt Saboteurs Association; as they celebrate 50 years of being in the fields to stop blood sports, such as fox hunting, hare coursing and badger culling. It is worth checking them out on their website and making use of their Donate button or links.

It is also worth checking for your local county Hunt Sabs groups (; as well as field-based events, they still need help with fund raising too. You don’t need to dress in “combats” and walk across field to help the Hunt Sabs if that’s not your “thing”.

Do be sure to check out their legal advice page though. Not that we are suggesting you might be a lawbreaker or anything, but it is as well to read about and understand why “hunt sabs” do and say the things they do and why they dress in a certain way. Essentially sabbing is predominantly a team-work activity, so it’s as well to know the rules your friends are following.

If you are focussed only on the badger cull right now, please check out the tweets from and the webpages of and  as they are very active in the cull zones. Contrary to what the NFUs apologists say, lots of people support @freebrocks – in fact they have more supporters than the NFU do, which is kind of ironic. Following @freebrocks on twitter is good as they are good at communicating information which is both timely and accurate; and less prone to misinterpretation within the froth of false rumours placed by some trolls and hunt-supporters.

Like we have said, we believe the time for the polite politics is coming to a close; and the time for direct action to save badgers from the guns is imminent. The government will not listen; so it is up to the people of this country to go into the fields and the woodlands to rescue as many badgers from the inhumanity of the farmer’s guns as physically possible.


Following the publication of this article, we have made a £50 donation to the FreedaBrocks fuel fund, so they can get sabs and experienced activists into the badger cull zones.

We would urge everyone to take whatever direct or indirect action they feel comfortable with; even if it’s “just” a donation.

Badger Baiting Evidence man beaten up!

Monday, July 26th, 2010

The BBC are reporting the worrying news that a Northern Ireland man has been very badly beaten up because he passed information about their badger baiting activities to the authorities. See the following BBC news story for more details:

As a badger specialist, I’m acutely aware of the risks getting involved monitoring badger baiting activities and being seen to report this to the Police and others. Badger baiters are some of the most violent criminal scum in the country – many of whom has criminal records for violence. Importantly, such violence is not always limited to violence against other gang members or people who “grass them up”. Some badger baiters have convictions for family-related violence against wives and girlfriends; so they are not nice people to live or work with either.

If you are involved in wildlife protection or monitoring, it’s worth taking some time to think about what the risks are if you monitor badger setts, birds nests and the habitats of other protected species. Of course, you might have a fall or a trip; so you need to tell someone where you are going and when you are due back so they know to get help if you don’t get back at the agreed time. But, what about the electronic trail many people leave on social/networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Think about it for a minute! If a badger baiter or an egg collector went to prison because of the evidence you gave, could they find you? What information can they find out by looking you up on Twitter or Facebook? Can they find out your home address or where you work? Can they find out what you look like or what car you drive or where your children live? Are you being a bit “careless” with your Facebook privacy settings. As a test, try Googling yourself to see what a badger baiter could find out about you – it might be a lot more than you realise!

The good news about monitoring badger baiters is that there is now some VERY sophisticated technology available which can get reliable evidence without the need to risk human involvement. It is possible to use soil samples to prove that a badger digger was at a specific crime scene. It is possible to show that a single animal hair in his van or 4*4 comes from a badger and that the badger lived in the sett which was dug. Most importantly, modern CCTV cameras are so tiny they can be concealed to make them totally invisible. They record excellent quality audio and daylight/night-vision video; and beam the information via a wireless link to a computer using internet technology.

In past years, badger baiters have been able to rely on crimes going undetected in the remote country areas. Modern technology is becoming cheaper to install and more reliable; which makes it more likely that badger baiters will be caught and convicted. They need to remember that you can’t intimidate a covert CCTV camera or a forensics lab not to give evidence against you!

Simon Flory

Badger Specialist