South East Recorder Issue 21 - Page 10

Charity Awareness BADGER TRUST The organisation was founded in 1989 as Mid-Sussex Badger Protection Group following a case of badger baiting in the area. They became a registered charity number 1113434 in March 2006, at which time the name was changed to Badger Trust – Sussex. The area covered by the Group is from the Surrey/Sussex border in the North, down to the Brighton/Worthing coastline, East to the A21 and West to the A24. The boundaries are not hard and adjacent badger groups work well together for the benefit of the badgers and the general public. Eurasian Badgers and their setts are strictly protected by the 1992 Protection of Badgers Act, while essential habitat is provisioned for under the 2010 Protected Species Habitat Regulations. The group is dedicated to the protection and conservation of badgers and their volunteers deal with a range of enquiries. These include responding to calls concerning injured badgers or abandoned cubs which in both instances are taken to a local wildlife hospital for treatment and return to the wild. If the animal is too badly injured to be rehabilitated it is humanely euthanased. Orphaned cubs are reared in small groups until old enough to be released in a suitable area. Badgers are very territorial, many of their setts are centuries old and with their acute sense of smell (800 times greater than that of a human being) they follow tracks trodden by their ancestors. It is common in the Spring and Autumn for householders to contact the Group complaining that badgers are digging up their lawns and asking for their removal. To do so is impossible, taking them out of their territory might jeopardise their lives as it is likely the badgers occupying that area would fight them. The Group advise householders of measures they can take to minimise or prevent the seasonal digging for leather jackets and chafer grubs. Treating the lawn to clear it of the grubs normally solves the problem. Badgers do not dig for worms which form a major part of their diet, when the weather conditions are right the worms rise to the surface and the badgers suck them up as if eating spaghetti! The rest of their diet consists of fruit and nuts found in the wild, they will dig out wasps nest to eat the grubs and like to eat peanuts which have fallen from bird feeders. Many householders love to watch badgers in their gardens and offer them food to attract them. Small quantities of food such as peanuts or chopped apples are fine but not cake or biscuits which rot their teeth and they should not become reliant on the food given. In arid conditions, a bowl of water is essential. The Group maintain records of setts in their area which are used to respond to enquiries by ecology companies or to comment on planning applications. This is becoming even more important as development in the South-East is increasing and can adversely affect the sett and the habitat of the badger population. Unscrupulous developers will sometimes clear a site at the weekend to remove a