The Badger, though one of Britain's best-loved mammals, and one of its most recognizable, is rarely seen, its habits largely unknown. worms are the main item of its diet, and badger territories are determined by the supply of worms in the area. Within territories, badgers live in colonies with strict social hierarchies and inhabit setts which may have been historic homes for badgers over hundreds of years. Being good housekeepers, badgers constantly replace their bedding and old piles of the bedding at the entrances of setts are a good indication of habitation, as are the latrines - usually placed some distance from the sett.
Michael Clark is privileged to watch badgers nightly at his home, and he has become familiar with his local group of badgers, recognizing individuals and keeping detailed and fascinating notes of their behaviour. He also has served on the government panel on badgers and TB, and he makes a good case against the current 'control' (i.e. killing) of badgers, both in economic terms and in terms of the reduction in TB. Where control of badgers takes place, there seems to be no lessening in the incidence of TB in cattle.
Badgers have a long history of persecution from man; though now protected by law, they still suffer at the hands of badger baiters. Who can blame them for trying to avoid humans? But secret places remote from man are getting rarer, and the protection of their habitats is one of the most needed conservation measures.
Michael Clark lives with his family on a nature reserve in Hertfordshire; he has illustrated many books on mammals and wrote Mammal Watching. He contributes to BBC Wildlife magazine and is a frequent broadcaster.