The principal aim of this research was to study coarsescale habitat selection and distribution of main setts of the Eurasian badger (Meles meles L., 1758). The study area extends for 161 Km2 in the hilly territory of southern Lombardy (Italy). The positions of 23 main setts (SP) and 28 random points (RP) were mapped into a GIS. For each point, several environmental characteristics were measured in the field or taken from thematic digital maps. A statistical comparison of the distribution of these characteristics in a circular area (radius 300 m) around each point was carried out. Eurasian badger setts were primarily dug in sheltered places, with high tree cover. The Manly selection index pointed to a strong selection for deciduous woods. Southern slope orientation and the presence of chestnut trees, a potentially important resource for badgers in this area, were also preferred. Similar to other studies, geological and lithological characters and the distance from water did not appear to influence den use. However, the substratum of the study area was mainly formed with sedimentary rocks, loam rocks and sandstones, with also easy-to-dig alluvial soils. Water is a resource easily available over the whole territory, with a well-branched network of rivers and streams. The road network and the presence of urban or industrial infrastructures seem to be a real factor of danger and disturbance, as one of the leading causes of mortality for badgers are road casualties. Our results suggest that badgers of this region are more selective for the sett site than for food resources.
badger, Meles meles, habitat selection, sett distribution, Northern Italy