Badger Survey

If Setts (or ‘potentially’) Setts are located onsite, initially it will be necessary to confirm their presence and usage. This may mean cutting back vegetation to get a clearer view and if present, it may be necessary to monitor the Sett to observe usage and prove who the tenant currently is. 

General Information.

A Badger Survey can occur at any time of year. Although, the best time is in early spring or late autumn when badgers are active and there is less vegetation to hide the signs.

A Sett is any structure or place which shows signs indicating it’s currently being used by a badger. This means that the tunnels and chambers and the areas immediately outside the entrances are all part of the Sett. Other structures used by badgers for shelter and refuge could also be classed as a Sett, including spaces:

  • among rocks and boulders
  • under garden sheds and raised buildings
  • among hay bales
  • under hedges or bushes

When evidence of a Sett is found, its usage must be determined. The Sett is protected if there are signs of badgers usage, even if they aren’t occupying it at the time.

Monitoring Setts

Sett entrances are usually monitored over an extended period of time. Typically, up to 4 weeks, to see if they’re active. Generally, an experienced ecologist can be reasonably certain whether any particular ‘entrance’ is being used, however sometimes, a camera will be secreted onsite with an overview of the Sett access holes. Additionally, an alternative monitoring approach (Sticky Sticks / Sand Traps) will be used initially for up to 7 days. Decisions on how to proceed will be taken once it is certain that the holes are being used by badgers rather than foxes.

What to do about the badger Sett

The starting point is to assume that the Sett can be protected and retained on site. Efforts should be made to try and accomodate and protect the Sett. Sometimes this is possible. Other times it is not.

The following paragraphs provide an overview of the procedures once the presence of badgers is proven and it is not possible to retain the Sett on site.

Additional Surveys

These surveys will usually:

  • Prove that a Sett is in current use
  • Monitor use of the Sett and determine if it’s a significant Sett for the group
  • Estimate territorial boundaries
  • Identify locations for mitigation measures
  • Identify the location of any other Setts and specifically the main Sett.

The survey report will usually provide an assessment of the impacts this development will have on badgers if no mitigation measures were planned e.g.

  • damage to Setts
  • loss of Setts
  • loss of foraging areas 
  • disturbing badgers while they’re occupying Setts with noise, lights, vibration, fires or chemicals

The status and location of the Sett then determines the mitigation and when there is a need to apply for a Licence.

Excluding Badgers and the Licence Application

To close a Sett/exclude badgers from a Sett a licence must be applied for.

Before Setts are destroyed, all badgers must have been excluded without any uncertainty. This work must be done under licence. Licences to exclude badgers and to close down or destroy a Sett are only issued between 1 July and 30 November, other than in exceptional circumstances.


Exclusion carries the responsibility of:

  • Ensuring there are alternative Setts nearby that badgers can relocate to
  • Building artificial Setts before excluding badgers from the original Sett AND ensure that badgers have found artificial Setts before excluding them from original Setts
  • Commissioning and using 1-way badger gates which are kept in place for at least 21 days from the last sign of badgers accessing the Sett –
  • Checking gates at least once every 3 days for signs of badgers entering or leaving the Sett
  • Chemical repellents are prohibited (as none are approved)

Once badgers have been excluded:

  • The set will need to be destroyed (if appropriate) as soon as possible, to reduce the chances of badgers re-occupying
  • The Sett will need to be securely proofed against re-entry by badgers by using heavy-gauge chain-link or weldmesh
  • Setts are often ‘dug out’ to trace the underground tunnels and ensure that all animals have left the Sett and to ensure that the Sett is completely destroyed to prevent re-occupation.

If a Natural England Licence to disturb or destroy a badger Sett is required, please contact us to discuss this further.

Please contact us for a site specific quotation –


Please call us on 0800 888 6846 / 07736 458609

LPA’s often default to Natural England’s ‘Standing Advice’ – This can be found here.

Natural England Standing Advice for Planning Authorities –

Badgers: surveys and mitigation for development projects –