How to deal with over eager badgers

They look cute, but badgers can be very aggressive

Badgers can be very aggressive and hard to deal with

Badgers can be found in all parts of mainland France (except Corsica) and are usually at the top of the wild food chain, eating hedgehogs, rabbits and other mammals as well as grubs, insects, eggs and a wide variety of vegetation.

They also eat wasps nests, making them a gardener’s friend.

Badgers are nocturnal and live in underground setts which also provide homes for other animals (foxes, rabbits etc) which are not as well equipped for digging. These setts help aerate and drain ground, and prevent it becoming too impacted.

In large numbers, however, badgers can become unwelcome visitors; their droppings can smell, and their earthworks can occasionally, literally, undermine roadways and buildings. Attempting to catch them and release them somewhere else can result in nasty bites, and of course releasing a badger into “foreign territory” will often result in the intruding badger being killed by the local ones.

The best way to deal with over-enthusiastic badgers is to use a specially formulated organic deterrent based on mustard, such as the one sold by the Meles Association (www.meles.fr). Their deterrent costs around €30 a litre, is fully biodegradable, and effective. An electric fence with the bottom wire adjusted to be around 15cm off the ground will also work.

Spending time in a hide, watching badgers when they come out at night, is a fascinating experience. Badgers live in clans, or groups, of around five to eight and are social and tolerant. Young are often nurtured by all the females in a clan, and have been spotted playing with other species, like foxes. They prefer to live in woodlands but have been seen in all habitats, up to an altitude of 2,000m.

Their relaxed attitude and cute markings make it easy to think that they are gentle creatures. In fact the opposite is true and they can be extremely aggressive, particularly when cornered or defending their young.

Threats to badgers include being gassed and shot because they can carry bovine tuberculosis, but the main threat is from traffic accidents. Tunnels can help but only when twinned with fences or thick hedges funnelling badgers towards them.

Dealing with injured or orphaned badgers can be difficult and usually requires expert help. If you find one, contact the Meles Association or a local vet.

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