East Kintore Development
Practecology undertakes extensive badger surveys to inform mitigation and licensing ahead of a major housing development.
During March and April 2017, Practecology undertook a programme of badger bait marking at two setts in Aberdeenshire. The purpose was to determine the territory boundaries of each social group and determine the need for any mitigation. Setts were fed with a mix of peanuts, syrup, and bright coloured plastic pellets. The plastic pellets pass through the gut of the badgers without doing them any harm and can be then detected in scats. This is a useful way of understanding where badgers have travelled to from the point they ate the pellets.
Setts were fed for a duration on 10 consecutive days with bait being distributed around each sett late in the afternoon to minimise uptake by non-target species. Concurrently with baiting, and for 4 days thereafter, latrine searches where conducted throughout the landscape up to approximately 500m from each sett. Obvious badger paths were followed to determine boundary crossing points, to maximise the likelihood of finding latrines, locate other setts, determine the distance badgers may forage from each sett, and to identify potential territorial boundaries.
Badger fur on barbed wire
Badger path beside stream
Grain - another badger food source
Bait uptake at one sett was immediate and badger scats containing coloured pellets were identified in latrines only two days after baiting had commenced. However, no scats containing pellets were found adjacent to the main sett, rather they were located several hundred metres away and in a range of directions. Coloured pellets placed at one sett were also discovered around the second sett although there was no transfer of pellets in the opposite direction.
Uptake at the other sett was slower, did not occur on every day, even at the same bait point, and feeding remains did not always suggest badger activity. As a result of the inconclusive signs remote cameras were deployed to aid in the identity of the animal which may have been responsible. After two nights of filming it was confirmed that pheasants were entering sett entrances and consuming bait. This compared with footage recorded at the main sett where bait uptake was immediate with a total of three badgers being recorded.