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Cornish Red Data (2009)

The descriptive text, below the map, is from the Cornish Red Data Book (2009). The map on this web page depicts the organisms distribution and shows the records made pre-2000 and those made since.

Meles meles - Badger

Range & Status

The Badger has an extensive distribution across temperate Palaearctic, from Ireland to Siberia and perhaps to Japan (Harris & Yalden, 2008). Found in Europe in the west and central region as well as southern Scandinavia (Macdonald & Barrett, 1993). Widespread in Britain and Ireland (particularly in southern England) though absent at high altitudes (mostly over 500 metres above sea level). Also absent in some intensively farmed areas, large conurbations, lowland flood-plains and most offshore islands (Corbet & Harris, 1996; Harris & Yalden, 2008). Harris et al . (1995) give an apparently reliable total pre-breeding population for England, Scotland and Wales of 250,000 (190,000 in England).

Regional Distribution

Common and widespread in Cornwall, in a variety of habitats including coastal sites, the mild, wet climate here being favourable for this species. Cornwall was included in a national Badger survey in 1967, when it was estimated that 1006 setts were present. There is no evidence that the species has subsequently declined (D. Lord, pers. obs. ) and it may well have increased. The increase in nature conservation grazing on seminatural habitats, by organisations such as The National Trust over the last 20 years, have probably had a positive effect on numbers.

Habitat & Ecology

Badger setts are found in woodland, scrub, hedgerows, quarries, coastal cliff-tops, moorland, open fields, embankments, Iron Age forts, mines, caves, coal-tips, rubbish dumps and under buildings. Badgers are omnivorous, opportunistic foragers (Corbet & Harris, 1996), with optimal habitat being a mixture of deciduous and mixed woodland and copses coupled with earthworm-rich pasture. High Badger densities are often associated with cattle farming as short grass provides ideal habitat for earthworm foraging (Harris & Yalden, 2008).


An estimated 10,000 animals are killed illegally each year by Badger diggers; a further 1000 per year were killed in the name of bovine tuberculosis control, in the south-west, in the recent past. Many are also killed by road traffic accidents. These factors have not, however, thought to have affected population size, the destruction of setts is probably the most significant threat. Fragmentation caused by destruction of setts and new road schemes, especially in low density areas, may represent a substantial threat (Harris et al ., 1995).


Badgers are protected by complex and extensive legislation which is consolidated into the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 (introduced in the Badger Act 1973, amended by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981). Licences to interfere with Badger setts may be available from either DEFRA or Natural England depending on the purpose (Harris & Yalden, 2008). Legislation is based on animal welfare issues rather than nature conservation, and at the European level, the Badger is listed as being of International Importance in the Bern Convention, since it may be threatened in parts of its range (Whilde, 1993). Locally, the Peninsula Badger Group is active in the West Penwith area. Listed (long list) as a globally threatened/declining species (BSGR, 1995), though its inclusion in a British Red Data book is questionable. Not included on the Biodiversity Action Plan list for Cornwall.

Click here to see Aphotoflora images by David Fenwick


I.J. Bennallick, S. Board, C.N. French, P.A. Gainey, C. Neil, R. Parslow, A. Spalding and P.E. Tompsett. eds. 2009. Red Data Book for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. 2nd Edition.Croceago Press.

The Cornish Red Data Book Project was led by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Federation for Biological Recorders (CISFBR). The full text and species accounts (minus the maps) are available on the CISFBR website.