There were strict guidelines which the contractors had to abide by regarding traps and the shooting of ‘free-running’ badgers. This document is from the 2013 cull when the extension was granted (click for PDF) and sets out the specifications of the licence. Please be aware that things change over the years and also may not be the same in future culls…
Badgers were baited out from anti-cull land to pro-cull land. Watch out for this and always assume that there is more than one cage near a sett / in the vicinity. Just because a sett is on anti-cull land does not mean that it is safe. Additionally, cages will not necessarily be placed right next to a sett, nor will bait points, snares and so on – briefly checking the sett itself is important to check for signs of tampering and so on, but the immediate vicinity (and even potentially further afield) should also be checked if possible.
Maize is just as attractive to badgers as peanuts and fields of maize are huge, great big baitpoints and the cullers know this. So do we: please pay special attention to maize fields. Prior to harvest they will be a prime site for cages, after harvest they will be a prime target for free-shooting. Some people found that eye protectors helped last year – maize leaves will often be at eye-level and can give a nasty paper-cut-type scratch.
If you come across a blocked sett, for example, please let us know (anonymously if you prefer) and we will report it if you are unable to. The Badger Trust are acting against badger crime and would appreciate information concerning attacks on badger setts and badgers https://www.badger.org.uk/report
Do not ignore inactive setts. Badgers do move depending on what is going on and according to food supply. An inactive sett can suddenly be occupied and then targeted. Check on them from time to time. Also look for new setts if one has been abandoned. We have seen sets be inactive for 4 years before being active again. Likewise new setts can be found and badger can take up residence in stick piles, drains and non badger proofed arificial earths. Things change, especially with a cull so please update records and be mindful of this.
It is generally not a good idea to feed badgers. This was done in the first year at 2 setts for good reasons but, unless the same situation arises, not a good idea. We don’t want badgers to get used to humans or reliant on food and certainly don’t want to get them used to peanuts, etc! However, there are badgers who have been fed for decades in some areas and better that they seek food in an anonymous safe garden than a shooters bait point for example.
Badger latrines are very well worth noting and the excrement is worth examining. You are looking for signs of pre-baiting i.e. peanuts in the stool. Peanuts will be thrown down setts, put on runs, near latrines, in fields and in small pits and then covered over. Be careful to differentiate between a baitpoint and a human latrine. Responsible humans dig a small hole and bury their waste… it looks like a baitpoint… we found out the hard way.
Cage trapping is said to be preferred according to documents from Dorset where local farmers are being encouraged to lay their own traps, do their own shooting if they have the licence and there has been a 2 hour course in sett surveying. The cull is fought day and night. Whatever anyone can do whether it be a 2 hour stint one evening or morning or 18 hours a day, every day you are most welcome!
In the cull zones lots of people drive 4X4s including sabs, patrollers, locals who are sympathetic to badgers, landowners out protecting their own setts from shooters, people who live in the area who have nothing to do with the cull and are going home, etc. and shooters, pro-hunt / cull landowners. Some anti-cull people may have pro-hunt / shooting car stickers as they help us to blend in. Don’t call in just because you’ve seen a 4X4 unless you think it is suspicious and please don’t tamper with any vehicles!
AHLVA were driving Highways Maintenance pick-ups in the first year when checking hair traps and the police will be out in unmarked cars, so there is all sorts of skulduggery on all sides. Keep an open mind and if you are not sure call us as we have a list of baddie vehicles (though this is not exhaustive). We can also ask local people who live and work in that area of the zone.
Shooters can be in ordinary beaten up old cars – they can also walk out of a farm and into the fields. They will be hidden in the maize, in the woods and in the hedgerows. They have been seen getting into position well before dusk. Therefore sabs also need to be present during this time.
Please pass on registration numbers to the office – give us your own if you think someone may think you are a shooter and the reg number of any suspicious vehicle.