Badgers first moved into our site about two years ago, and established two sets, under a manure storage heap and beneath one of the plots. At first, we were delighted to see them, and did all that we could not to disturb them. Following advice from Richmond council leisure services, the manure heap was cordoned off.
However, it soon became apparent that there was a price to be paid. The badgers seem to love carrots, beetroots, strawberries and, particularly, sweet corn. Not one of our plotholders has been able to harvest any sweet corn this year - the entire crop has been eaten by the badgers. They also scratch in the soil for earthworms, and dig holes into which they defecate. In a newly prepared seedbed or in the midst of young plants, the damage is very disheartening to a gardener.
This is not the worst of it. One of our plotholders has just been instructed by leisure services that he must vacate his plot, which he has cherished over a number of years, because badgers have dug a set beneath it. His neighbouring plotholder must lose a quarter of her plot. Richmond council has now fenced off these plots.
It seems that if a badger moves in to an allotment site, then the plotholders, no matter how long they have held their plots, can be moved off. This is clearly unjust, and I cannot think of anything better calculated to inflame opinion against badgers.
Can anyone suggest a solution which is lawful, and fair both to badgers and gardeners?
Chairman, Walnut Tree Meadow Allotment Society