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Badgers Know Where Their Setts Lie…Do you?

Updated: Jan 31

In the UK, badgers are a protected species under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. This act makes it illegal to take, injure, kill or or be cruel to badgers.


It also prohibits human interference with badger setts. This can present a big issue to clients who are hoping to dig for archaeology or have plans to develop an area of land.


A Badger

It is important to consider the potential impact on badgers before any work is undertaken on a site. Especially if the site is greenfield, where it is likely that badger setts will be present.


Entrance to a badger sett

Above: Entrance to a badger sett discovered by SUMO Geophysics.


Where to start…


If the presence of badgers on your site is unknown, then your first point of contact is likely to be an ecological adviser. They can establish whether there are visible ‘clues’ consistent with badger activity. If there is a presence of badgers on your site, then further investigation may be advisable.


If the habitation of badgers is already established, then it may be unnecessary to consult an ecological adviser. Instead, you may wish to investigate further to gauge the extent of the sett and its location.


Getting your badger sett survey…


Mapping the entrances of the badger sett can give you a basic understanding of the area taken. But, to further understand the badger sett you will need a geophysical survey. This will give you information about the central nest, tunnel layout and the depth of the tunnels.


Large badger tunnel

Above: This image shows the large size that badgers may dig their tunnels to. To put this photo in perspective, a small child could stand straight in these tunnels!


The tunnels are often large, so they show similar characteristics to voids. This means that the same equipment used for the location of voids can be adapted for badger sett surveys. Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) is ideal for mapping the location and extent of setts.


Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) data
Example of Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) data. Anomalies are present in the central area between 0.5m-1m depth. These anomalies show the crown (top curve) of the badger tunnels. The extent of this sett is shown by the vertical red lines.

Time-slice detail

Above left: Example time-slice detail of the site showing the tunnel layout of the sett. There are three entrances located on the right-hand side of this image. Above right: Example interpretation showing the extent of badger sett a badger sett on site.


Why should you contact SUMO?


  • SUMO Geophysics has over 40 years of experience at the forefront of archaeology.

  • Our geophysics team provides a comprehensive customer experience from start to finish.

  • Working to tight schedules and deadlines, SUMO Geophysics prides itself on being the largest provider of professional geophysics in the UK with Nationwide coverage.

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