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Artificial Sett Building

Over the last few years, the Essex Badger Protection Group has built a number of artificial badger setts to facilitate the release of orphaned badger cubs taken into the South Essex Wildlife Hospital.

The search for sites to build these setts is often very challenging, as a safe and suitable habitat needs to be found outside any existing badger territory. The group is constantly looking for sites for its artificial sett builds and anyone who has a site they feel is suitable is asked to contact the group on

Before any sett build is undertaken, a desktop survey of the area is done using our extensive records. This allows us to check for badger activity in the area.  This is then followed-up with a full survey of the proposed area, involving the landowner, to understand any challenges, threats and wildlife activity.  Finally a 21-day camera-trap survey is completed to determine if there are any badgers using the site. It also allows us to check that no other vulnerable species would be adversely affected by the siting of a badger sett.

Once a site has been agreed work starts on sourcing materials and volunteers. Setts can be expensive costing us to £5000, so fundraising activities will also start in earnest at this time to help fund the project.

The sett design and size will depend on the landscape and habitat.  Typically the group will build a two or three chamber sett with numerous interconnecting tunnels.

Every badger group will build their setts differently, depending on funds available and the skills and availability of volunteers.  Our group has made the decision to build robust setts which will last for many years.  Whilst this makes them more costly and time-consuming to construct, we believe that it is a good investment to establish a solid base for our vulnerable cubs.  It also means that, where badgers more on to build their own setts, it allows us to re-use the sett for a future release group.

Sett builds, whilst hard work, are an excellent opportunity for our members to help out and get involve in some hands-on ecology.

The setts are generally build in the early summer to allow the earth to settle and the area to naturalise before the cubs are released; usually in September / October.

Electric fencing is erected prior to release around the sett area to ensure the badgers are able to familiarise themselves with their new home and surroundings. This will be in place for 2 to 3 weeks.

Once released, support feeding for the badgers is put in place.  This is an industry in itself spanning 16 weeks, with food being gradually reduced over the period as the badgers become more self-sufficient.

The link below shows a step-by-step guide of a typical sett build in more detail, illustrated with photographs from one or our recent projects.

Artificial Sett Pictures