Thursday, April 22, 2010
When I first started my new role as an environmental advisor I imagined that I'd be one to oneing with badgers and networking with bats and newts. So it's with some level of personal joy that this week I met with an officer of Natural England to discuss a strategy for a little badger related problem we have on the far end of one of our railway lines.
These badgers have in the last five years succeeded in burrowing underneath the railway, and although it's a remote possiblity our engineers are worried that unless we fill the holes in the ground might start shifting underneath the rails, meaning we'd have to shut the railway.
The officer inspected the sett and immediately voiced the opinion that the setts are almost certainly unoccupied, which came as some relief to me. I'd promised the engineers that if they did this through me - and not an external company - I would bring it to a speedy and inexpensive conclusion. Of course if it turned out that badgers were in occupancy this would not have been the case. It may turn out that badgers are in fact still living there, and that would have left me having to eat my own words...it's a gamble worth taking as I'm hoping that I will be in a position to deal with all the other sites that engineers have flagged up as "badger related problems".
So I am to be granted a license to carry out "soft blocking" of the setts. this is where you pile loose earth into the entrances of the tunnels and monitor to see if the earth is moved. this will signify badger occupancy. If this happens then we'll be forced to wait till the end of the breeding season, and then install one way doors to force the badgers to move on. I'm hoping we this won't be necessary.
So, yesterday was badgers, today was setting about understanding our new GIS data system and corresponding biodiversity data. It's a pretty marvellous system, though a little cumbersome to use. You have to really know what it is you're looking for. I'm going to put together a list of all outstanding sites where badgers might be an issue, get the engineers to put a priority rating on them, and work through applying for licenses to move badgers out where necessary.
This way, I believe, we can protect those badger groups on the system who are not causing a potential hazard, and encourage those that are, to move elsewhere.