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Badgers usually live in woodland but you may find them in your garden as they move between setts or look for food. Some even set up home in a secluded areas of gardens, or on golf courses.

Badgers are active at dawn and dusk, but cubs may be seen foraging during daylight if food is scarce in the summer. They live in social groups of five to 12 and each group usually has one litter of between one and five cubs each year.

A national survey of badgers in 1997 estimated there were 50,000 social badger groups in Britain - that's around 310,000 adult badgers.

Feeding badgers
Providing supplementary food, in limited amounts, can be beneficial to badgers. Tinned cereal-based dog food with lightly-cooked meat, cheese, peanuts and fruit can help badger cubs survive hot dry summers and also help all badgers during cold, frosty periods.

But not everyone welcomes badgers and, if food is provided on a regular basis by a number of households, there is a risk that badgers may become a problem for some neighbours. This could lead to someone taking action against the animals.

Keep out!
The most humane and long-term solution to discourage badgers from your garden is to remove or prevent access to whatever attracts them to the area.

Food is the number one attraction; only provide food for wild birds on bird tables or in feeders and clear away windfall fruit. Make sure your dustbin is securely sealed with an expanding strap.

To stop badgers getting in to your vegetable patch, use electrified flexinet fencing (pegged down along its length to prevent badgers squeezing underneath) or two strands of electrified Polywire at 7.5-20cm above ground.

Digging in
Badgers may dig up lawns for insect larvae, or for a latrine to mark their territories, although this behaviour is largely seasonal. Latrines are most conspicuous in the spring and autumn, with lawn digging in late autumn and early spring. As damage is limited to certain times of the year, many gardeners find it easier to tolerate the nuisance.

Proper protection
The Protection of Badgers Act 1992 makes it an offence to kill or injure a badger (except under licence); cruelly ill-treat a badger; use certain prohibited firearms; dig for a badger; damage or destroy a badger sett or obstruct access to it, or disturb a badger in it; cause a dog to enter a badger sett; and tag or mark any badger (except under licence).

An occupied badger sett may also be found on the proposed site for a road or housing. To avoid later problems, developers should carry out surveys with the local badger group, wildlife trust or ecological consultant before seeking outline planning permission.

Providing tunnels under roads, artificial setts, roadside reflectors, badger gates and fencing can help reduce the impact on the local badger population.

Badger facts
To report badger digging or baiting, an injured or sick badger to the RSPCA, please ring the 24-hour national cruelty and advice line on 0300 1234 999.