Garden badgers in desperate search for food
Appeared on Space For Nature on September 3rd 2003
The National Federation of Badger Groups (NFBG) has received an unprecedented number of complaints of badgers (Meles meles) making a nuisance of themselves in gardens. But their activity is not a symptom of increasing populations - quite the reverse: the badgers causing the disruption my be in crisis.
Two exceptionally dry summers have left badgers short of many of their normal foods - particularly earthworms which are one of their staples. The increases activity in gardens is simply a symptom of their increasingly desperate search for food.
This year in Wytham Woods, Oxfordshire, where badgers are studied intensively, only 12 cubs were raised across 50 setts (the lowest for 28 years) and this follows a total of 15 in 2002. Large numbers of badgers suffering from starvation and dehydration have also been observed.
The NFBG has produced a booklet to help gardeners to coexist with visiting badgers. The booklet includes guidance on how gardening strategies can be modified to help the badgers; for instance, gardeners who sprinkle their lawns could help the badgers by doing it last thing in the evening. Apart from being a more economical use of water, this also attracts worms to the surface where they are more accessible to the badgers.
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