Look at this absolute unit! Is this badger showing off for our wildlife camera or what? Badgers are the biggest mammals we encounter in our region and the ecologists of the enabling team adore them, writes Tom Ryan, Southern Water Lead Ecologist.
Badger clans have large ranges and a really complex social life so before any construction work is undertaken we have to be sure that we aren’t going to disturb them.
This chap was snapped by a wildlife capture cam near an East Grinstead area treatment works. We’re planning to improve a site by adding a unit which removes phosphates from wastewater which will have significant environmental benefits such as preventing algal bloom in water courses.
Our job is to assess the proposed site to understand what environmental impacts construction might have. Our surveys look for all kinds of things from newts to rare flowers and orchids.
Badgers are a crucial part of the work and we have to understand their lives so we anything we do has minimal impact on them.
Badgers live in large extended family clans and have four different sorts of set. If we find a main set near where we want to work, we’ll always find a different solution. Attempting to move a sett is legally permitted but it’s just not something we ever want to try.
The main set generally has a ‘granny annex – it’s connected to the main digging but as much as 50 metres away.
Larger clans frequently have subsidiary setts. They’re properly dugout but occupied less frequently. A holiday home for Mr and Mrs Brock. Finally there are outlier setts. These may be used only once – a naughty stop out by a badger ranging far from home – perhaps to extend the range or just forging. These are the kinds of set most commonly found near our proposed sites and so out comes the wildlife cam and we monitor. If it looks like the clan are using it then it’s time to have a talk with our engineering and construction colleagues about whether the site could be moved or what other mitigation can be put in place.