Badgers are 'rehomed' while work is carried out on town's tennis courts
While the badger cull is causing controversy in the countryside, East Devon District Council has came up with a novel solution to a problem posed by a family of badgers undermining tennis courts near Exmouth seafront.
The time-honoured way to stop burrowing animals getting under the courts is to install chain-link wire to form an underground "fence" around the area. But how to do this without disturbing the badgers, which are living in a space on The Maer, where the diggers need to burrow down to bury the fence?
The answer – which has full approval of Natural England, which has licensed and is overseeing the operation – is to move the badgers into temporary accommodation while the work is being carried out.
The most cost-effective solution, to avoid expensive ongoing repairs to the grass and tarmac surfaces of the tennis courts, was to build an artificial badger sett for the animals to move into while the works are being carried out.
Buy one get one free on main course and specials excludes fillet steaks and beef wellingtons
Must book to qualify and present voucher on arrival 01209860332
Contact: 01209 700617
Valid until: Wednesday, December 11 2013
This week the council's countryside team worked with StreetScene staff and contractors to build a makeshift badger sett using straw bales, plywood, roofing felt and topsoil, to form underground chambers which the animals can reach through tunnels made from drainage pipes.
The next step will be to fit one-way gates in the badgers' own tunnels, to divert them from the damaged area to the new artificial sett. It is expected the total cost will be under £4,000, compared with a five-figure sum to repair the tennis courts.
Council nature conservation officer Steve Edmonds, who is managing the project, said: "If we allow the badgers to continue colonising the area around and under the tennis courts and the nearby cricket nets, they will do untold damage which will cost many thousands of pounds.
"By moving them out while we block their access to the area under the courts, we can ensure the badgers can continue living in their chosen location without disturbance and without the risk of a big repair bill.
"We agreed the artificial sett idea with Natural England and they will be keeping an eye on each stage of the project as it progresses."
Councillor Iain Chubb, Cabinet member for environment, said: "Our countryside team has served up a fantastic solution to the threat to our tennis courts. The saving will be very significant and I commend them on an ace idea."