Badgers have such a friendly image that you’d never think of them as vicious killers. And yet twice recently I’ve been told about badgers on killing sprees; in the first case the victims were an entire hut of chickens and in the second some rare-breeed pheasants. Here, their worst crime has been to dig for worms in the lawn, so we’ve been very tolerant of the sett in our fern garden. Our family of badgers do most of their foraging in the sixty acre wood behind us and we’ve often seen them sidling over the cattle grid on their way into the wood, out of harm’s way.
But now, for the first time, a sinister threat has arisen. A large hole, which is quite obviously the start of a new sett, has appeared at the side of the lawn, just by the Japanese pool. When I nonchalantly pointed out the hole to the owner of the rare-breed pheasants she replied that I had every reason to be afraid, very afraid. She told me that a friend of hers had, like me, been rather proud of the badgers in his garden. So much so that he put out food for them and got so used to seeing them from his sitting room window at night that he decided to construct a make-shift burrow for them, right next to the house. To his delight they moved in. He watched them every night making this burrow their home, and even using bricks to enhance the design. It only gradually dawned on him where the badgers were getting the bricks – from underneath his house. The critters were destroying his foundations!
The truth only slowly began to sink in. The Japanese pool, underneath which the new sett was being made, is in the shape of a dam which holds many tons of water and is positioned directly above the house. If the dam gives way the body of water will carry away everything in its path, including the house. I think I’d better block up that hole, just to be on the safe side.