Go Wild on Wight

mammals

Find out more

Habitat Action Plans
Red Squirrel Species Action Plan (2003)

Woodland Bat Species Action Plan (2005)

External links
National Federation of Badger Groups (NFBG) Tel. 0207 498 3220

Isle of Wight Badger Trust

Badgers.org.uk

Wight Squirrel Project

Woodland Bat Species Action Plan

Bat Conservation Trust is a good source of information.

Bats and the law: Isle of Wight Bat Hospital 01983 406756 (for Island bats only please).

Badgers are common on the Isle of Wight and elsewhere in England, and are protected by law. These large and impressive animals are popular, but also can cause damage to gardens.

Badgers
Badgers were absent from the Isle of Wight until the nineteenth century, when they were introduced, probably for hunting. They are now common in most areas of the Island. Badgers are a protected species, and it is normally illegal to cause them actual harm. They are protected by the Badgers Act 1992, and it is an offence to kill, persecute or trap them, or interfere with their setts.Badger

The activity cycle of badgers over a year
Badgers do not hibernate, but often stay below ground during the winter, particularly in cold or wet weather. They emerge from the sett just before dusk in May to November, and usually after dusk at other times. Although they mate throughout the year, the embryo does not implant until November. The cubs are born at the beginning of February, and first appear above ground in early to mid-April. They are dependent on their mother for a few more weeks until they are weaned, and learn how to fend for themselves

Badgers in gardens
Badgers are frequent visitors to gardens and many people welcome, and indeed encourage them. If they are visiting your garden, it is most likely that your patch is on one of the animals’ regular foraging routes. You can encourage them by putting out food and water on a regular basis. Then you will have the benefit of watching these beautiful animals at close quarters. Provide nutritious food, such as peanuts, raisins, and sultanas, but nothing salty. At first it may be necessary to feed them at some distance from your house, and then gradually move the food nearer to your window.

Remember that badgers may be attracted to bird feeders if they can reach them, and deprive your birds of food. Badgers quickly become accustomed to artificial light, although they may be disturbed by security lights and by sudden movements and noises.

Badger latrine
Badger latrine

Signs of badgers

If badgers are visiting your garden, there are various signs that you may observe. Badgers are creatures of habit, and they usually take the same route into and across a garden. The end result is a track worn down to bare earth. They are very shy and peaceful animals and although they have fights about territory with other badgers they will not attack dogs, cats or people - they are much more likely to run away. Other animals tend to leave them alone.

If they are pushing under fences, or through bushes, you may find hairs are left behind. They are fairly coarse, and black with a white tip and base. They are flat on one side, and will not roll between your fingers. If the ground is soft, you may find paw prints. The badger print has five claws visible and a broad main pad. A fox print has only four claws and the main pad is smaller. You may find that they start to cause damage, such as digging holes (“snuffle holes”) in your lawn, eating your carrots or daffodil bulbs, or they may raid your dustbin.

Often, these problems are temporary, but if you are not prepared to accept a certain degree of mischief for the benefit of having these fascinating wild animals as visitors, then there are some measures you can take to reduce their impact. The RSPCA publish a useful book entitled “Problems with Badgers?”, obtainable from RSPCA, Wildlife Department, The Causeway, Horsham, West Sussex RH12 1HG. If the problem persists, you may wish to seek advice from an experienced badger expert.

What should I do if I think badgers are being harmed?
If the badgers are not on a development site - or if you are not sure - you should first of all inform the police. They have the power to enforce the Badgers Act 1992. You could inform the Council but if no planning application has been made they cannot intervene. If the badgers or their setts are on a site where development is proposed or happening, you should involve the Council. Badgers are legally protected species that are frequently encountered on development sites. The presence of badgers may be a material planning consideration.

However, although badger setts are protected from interference by law, their foraging grounds are not. The fact that badgers occasionally visit a site proposed for development or cross it to reach another site may not, in itself, constitute a material consideration. If there is known to be a badger sett on, or adjacent to, a piece of land proposed for development, you should inform the planning authority and/or ecology section. Under these circumstances, it is the responsibility of the applicant to provide information to enable the planning authority to determine the impact of the development upon badgers.

The information which is required is:

(a) a survey, which identifies presence/absence; population size, location of setts, runs etc.
(b) an assessment of the development’s impact on the badgers
(c) a mitigation strategy - this is a plan to show how the badgers and their setts will be treated, and any special measures to protect them or ensure that they can carry on using their sett undisturbed.

It is generally necessary for the applicant to employ the services of an experienced, licensed badger worker to obtain this information. Provided the necessary supporting information is made available to allow the Council to decide an application, the local planning authority should attach planning conditions or obligations as appropriate. Ultimately it is for the developer to ensure compliance with the law during the actual implementation of the development, not the planning authority. It is for the planning authority to monitor whether planning conditions are being properly discharged.

 

Red squirrels
Safe in the only place in England where red squirrels thrive naturally with no threat from the grey squirrel, the Island's red squirrels are perhaps the best-loved wild animals by Islanders and visitors alike.

Red SquirrelThe red squirrel is the only squirrel which is native to Britain. The Isle of Wight accommodates the only stable population of the red squirrel in England or Wales. This is largely because of the absence of grey squirrels which have never established a breeding population on the Island.

Historically, red squirrel populations in Britain have fluctuated widely, the species disappearing from many areas at times and recolonising at a later date. Habitat loss caused by destruction of woodlands has certainly not helped the red squirrel. However, in the 1920s red squirrels began to be replaced by grey squirrels introduced to about 30 sites from eastern North America, between 1876 and 1929. Red squirrels seem unable to survive in the presence of greys, but the reasons for this are not fully understood. There is no evidence that grey squirrels aggressively chase out red squirrels, but the key as to why grey have replaced red squirrels seems to be their ability to compete for food in different types of habitat. Red squirrels live in all types of woodland habitats from pure broadleaf, to mixed broadleaf and conifer, to pure conifer. However it is believed they prefer conifer forests because they can forage in them more efficiently and survive in them better than in broadleaf forest.

Where can I see red squirrels?
Red squirrels are active during the daytime, though in summer may rest for an hour or two around mid-day. Squirrel nests, or dreys, are constructed of twigs in a tree fork, or hollow or above a whorl of branches close to the stem of a conifer.

There is a red squirrel viewing hide and safari in Parkhurst Forest, near Newport. Developed by Gift to Nature in conjunction with the Forestry Commission the hide is free of charge and wheelchair accessible. At the same time as constructing the hide from local oak and Douglas fir a ‘squirrel safari’ woodland trail was created and includes chainsaw carvings and clues to help visitors catch a glimpse of the red squirrels which live in the Forest - they can be very shy. Other Island locations where red squirrels can often be seen include Robin Hill, Firestone Copse, and Seaview Wildlife Encounter.

Species Action Plan
Red Squirrel Species Action Plan (2003)

 

Bats
The Island is one of the most important areas in the UK for bats, with many rare species breeding here. Although rarely seen, these fascinating creatures and their roosts are highly protected.

BatThe Isle of Wight is one of the few places in the UK where bats, dormice and red squirrels can all be found together. Two species of rare bat, Barbastelle's and Bechstein's have recently been discovered there and it is for this reason that an area of woodland at Briddlesford has been re-designated as a SSSI and declared a Special Area for Conservation (SAC). This gives it the highest protection under EU legislation. Other parts of the Island have also shown exceptionally good bat populations, and bat study has become a popular past-time, with many public events for people to learn about and encounter bats.

Bats and the law
All British bat species are protected under UK and European legislation. It is illegal to kill, injure, or disturb bats, obstruct access to bat roosts, or damage or disturb bat roosts. Bats may be a material consideration in considering a planning application proposal but only where a known bat roost is likely to be affected. Most bat roosts are in buildings in a good state of repair; old and dilapidated buildings are not favoured. Some bats roost in trees - generally large, old trees are preferred. Bats can cover great distances when foraging for food. Often, when bats are seen on a site proposed for development, they are using the area for feeding and are not living on the site. Developers must make every effort to safeguard bats and their roosts.

Rescuing bats
In the UK it is legal to handle a bat, or any other protected animal, without a licence for humane reasons only - this includes rescuing them from cats, and taking them to a vet or person who is experienced in dealing with injured bats. The bat must be released at the earliest possible opportunity in the area where it was found. It is illegal to keep a healthy bat in captivity without a licence. If you do pick up an apparently healthy bat - either from a cat directly, or perhaps one that is on the ground, - keep it in a cool dark box until dusk, then put it out somewhere out of the cat's reach, and let it fly off in its own time. On the Isle of Wight there is a licensed Bat Hospital, run by volunteers, where you can get advice and where any sick or injured bat can be cared for.

Species Action Plan
Woodland Bat Species Action Plan (2005)


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