Chase or keep? The battle over the badger

This report is part of our series A Naturalist’s Walk: A walk to discover an exceptional species or environment, accompanied by an enthusiast.

Rambouillet National Forest (Evelyn), report

On this sunny afternoon with temperatures well above normal for the season, Emeric Benoit, 35, surfs at his home oasis » With his dog Windy: The National Forest of Rambouillet (Yvelines). Only the passing of a few planes disturbs the quiet of the bushes. In the midst of the ferns, the two friends discover a burrow in front of which a mysterious person has cleaned the ground. The paws are wider than those of the fox, and traces of the claws can still be seen. It’s a badger »Explains the head of the Center for the Study of Rambouillet and its Forests (Cerf78), who is also founder of the Society for the Conservation of Biodiversity Naturabios and a member of the Society for the Conservation of Wild Animals (Aspas). The inhabitant of this den has a black and white head and an elongated snout: it is the European badger. smooth smooth It is the largest representative of the family mustelidae [1] In France – 12 kilograms on average »identifies a report from Aspas on Mammals.

Emeric Benoit, President of the Rambouillet Center for the Study and its Forests. © Clemence Michaels / Reporter

Digging their crates of badgers on a sloping ground on a ledge or in the heart of the forest, they regularly roam around their lands, always passing the same paths.Explains the natural world. When you enter the forest, you also enter their home, so you need to know how to respect their habitat. » In particular the small tracks, the Float »that connect the burrows of these mammals.

About 6 pm, near the Badger Fields, a shadow appeared and in a few seconds disappeared into the woods. Almost invisible, badgers are nocturnal animals, Except when they are young, because sometimes at the end of the day they go out to play », says Aymeric Benoit. It specifies that these carnivores feed according to the seasons. Nuts, berries, remains of dead animals or even small animals found in other burrows, such as mice. » To get rid of itself, it constitutes a kind of small jars ». It is very clean and organized ”, Yells Aymeric Benoit. Apart from the wolf and humans, it has no predators and easily coexists with its neighbors. For example, badgers share with foxes if their habitat is large enough. They tolerate each other without a problem. »

The first World Badger Day, launched by Aspas, takes place on Sunday, May 15th. The goal: to put an end to the destruction of this animal. The ministerial decree of June 26, 1987 classifies them in the category of games: they can be shot or mined during the legal hunting period, from mid-September to the end of February. Until May 15 in certain departments While the babies are not yet weaned and still live with their mother »sorry to Asspace’s attorney, Manon Delater.

Among the authorized fishing techniques, subterranean fishing is practiced With a crew consisting of a group of dogs served by hunters who move either on foot or on horseback », such as hunting with dogs, according to the decree of March 18, 1982. At the end of the underground hunting, badger dogs are trapped in their burrow and then uprooted by hand or with pliers. About twenty people are slaughtered each year in the Evelyn section.

The badger population is weakened. “ They have an average of only 1 and 5 badgers per year. » © Clemence Michaels / Reporter

Disagreements between nature associations and fishermen’s federations

A fight rages between hunters and conservationists over the need for eyelid regulation. Currently, badgers are not classified as potentially harmful (Esod), so they are not considered Harmful ». On the phone, Manon Delater points this out Esod is classified into three categories, two of which are in effect by ministerial decrees, and one by prefectural decree. ». Unlike the fox, the badger is not on any of these lists, so it cannot be Demolition ».

Badgers partner with foxes if their habitat is large enough. They tolerate each other without a problem. » Emrick Benoit

but badger, Depending on the behavior and diet ”, Will be prone to causing harm », according to the Interdepartmental Confederation of Fishermen in Ile-de-France. It could have caused €4355.60 damage to Evelyn in 2020. [2] While there weren’t even badgers thirty years ago in the area, today they are carriers of diseases such as bovine tuberculosis and destroy agriculture as they eat crops. »says Stefan Walchuck, a technician at the Interdepartmental Confederation of Fishermen in Ile-de-France (Ficif). The latter would have identified the badger-related problems in individuals, companies and at the railway bridge level in SNCF : The galleries dug into the Rambouillet racetrack collapsed when a tractor passed, mowing the lawn on the track. [et] The horse may have broken a leg after a gallery collapse. » The Association of Wine Growers of Saint-Arnoult-en-Yvelines Frequent damage to its vines in the fall, despite the protective fence »Union continues. We also note that during the examination of the compensation file for damage to the big game, the damage caused by the badger is attributed to the wild boar. »

We can clearly distinguish between the pads and the long claws of a badger. It is the largest member of the family mustelidae. Emrick Benoit

Arguments refuted by environmentalists. Emeric Benoit, citing a revised expert collective report from the National Food Safety Agency (Anses) on the management of bovine tuberculosis, says that although they are exposed to tuberculosis, they have very little chance of transmitting the disease to humans. Moreover, since it is a very conservative nocturnal species, it seems difficult to assert with certainty that the damage was inflicted by these animals. »follows the natural world.

Badger patch in Rambouillet. Emrick Benoit

Above all, the badger population will be weakened. They have difficulty reproducing. The sexual maturity of badgers is two years, they have on average only 1-5 badgers per year, about half of them do not survive during the year », explains Manon Delater. The mustelid is also included in the Berne Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, which entered into force in France in 1990. This means that the regulation of badgers should not call into question the conservation status of the species at the national level. level. Several European countries including the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Greece, Spain and Portugal have decided to fully protect the badger.

According to Aspas, France remains The only country that legally practices drilling ». Manon Delater remains optimistic. In Evelyn, the additional period of underground badger hunting, from mid-May to September, has not been allowed since 2020. This is very good news »The lawyer is happy. And a first step towards increasing the protection of this inhabitant from shrubs ?

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