Badger bait marking surveys are used by environmental consultants and ecological surveyors to establish the size and boundaries of badger territories. Surveys are conducted by providing food (usually peanuts and syrup) mixed with coloured plastic markers at a main badger sett (or setts). As badgers mark the boundaries of their territory with dung pits or latrines, these pellets will be defecated in these places. By studying the distribution of pellets it is therefore possible to study the territorial limits of the social group and by using different coloured pellet markers at different setts, it is also possible to study the range of multiple groups simultaneously. Badger bait surveys should ideally be conducted in spring (February to April) as peak territorial marking activity occurs at this time. If necessary surveys may also be conducted in autumn.
These marking pellets are manufactured from food grade plastic and are 2mm in diameter. They are completely harmless to badgers.
Pellets are available in five colours: blue, green, yellow, red and white and are sold in 1kg bags.
Guidance for use:
• The area to be studied should first be searched thoroughly for a minimum of ten consecutive days in order to find all setts and latrines. Only the main, active sett(s) should be baited. If baiting more than one main sett, different coloured beads should be used for each.
• Mix together the bait pellets with a combination of peanuts and golden syrup. The ratio of peanuts to beads should be approximately 15:1 by volume. The easiest way to combine these is to layer the peanuts and beads in a container and mix together by hand. Pour over the syrup and leave in a warm place overnight. Alternatively, the syrup can be heated first and mixed into the dry ingredients.
• Setts should be visited in the late afternoon. Place dollops of bait (approx 50-100ml) around the sett up to a maximum distance of 15-20 metres. To do this, make a small depression in the ground, place in the bait and cover with a stone. This protects the mixture from rain and deters smaller mammals and birds from eating it. (Badgers will be strong enough to move the stone to get to the food beneath).
• Each main sett should be baited for a minimum of five consecutive days. For the first day or two, you may wish to put some bait just inside the sett entrance, as this will let the badgers become accustomed to its presence and scent.
• After the baiting period, the area should be surveyed carefully and latrines/faeces examined for the presence of beads. Setts, latrines and bead findings can then be marked onto a map and the boundaries of each sett determined.
More information about badger surveys and mitigation can be found at www.gov.uk.