Decline of the number of occupied badger ( Meles meles) setts in the Veluwe region (the Netherlands) and its possible causes

Comparison of surveys shows that the number of occupied badger (Meles meles) setts has declined by 42% in the past 25 years in the Central Veluwe (192 setts less) and by 15% in the Peripheral Veluwe (33 setts less). Probably this had a proportionally negative effect on the number of badgers. Concomitantly, the number of occupied 1 km2 squares (km squares) has declined by 33% in the Central Veluwe (112 km squares less) and by 6% (11 km squares less) in the Peripheral Veluwe. The share of occupied km squares supporting more than one occupied sett dropped from, on average, 22 to 12%. These declines may result from diminishing supplies of food and accessibility of food for badgers. Some of the factors determining these supplies and their accessibility apply as much to the Central Veluwe as to the Peripheral Veluwe. However, long dry spells during summer, potential food competition with wild boar (Sus scrofa), the diminishing area of accessible manured grassland and local recreation pressure, probably have had a greater negative impact in the Central Veluwe than in the Peripheral Veluwe. The present paper proposes several measures to preserve and restore the badger population of the Veluwe.