Badgers and the Law

Why are badgers protected?

Badgers and their setts are legally protected from intentional cruelty, such as badger-baiting, and from the results of lawful human activities, such as building developments. However, it is a sad fact that many thousands of badgers are still killed illegally each year, and the incidents appear to be increasing. Also, due to the nature of the crimes, there are relatively few successful prosecutions.

Threats to badgers

Badgers in the UK are threatened by both legal and illegal activities.

Legal activities, subject to compliance with conditions in the 1992 Act, include:

  • road and housing development
  • forestry and agricultural operations
  • badger culling by the Ministry of Agriculture in relation to bovine TB in cattle

Illegal threats to badgers include:

  • badger-digging and baiting
  • snaring
  • poisoning (including the misuse of pesticides)
  • lamping
  • sett interference
  • illegal activities by some fox hunts
  • sett-stopping by fox hunts

Relevant legislation

The main legislation protecting badgers is the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. Under the 1992 Act it is an offence to:

  • wilfully kill, injure, take or attempt to kill, injure or take a badger
  • possess a dead badger or any part of a badger
  • cruelly ill-treat a badger
  • use badger tongs in the course of killing, taking or attempting to kill a badger
  • dig for a badger
  • sell or offer for sale or control any live badger
  • mark, tag or ring a badger

interfere with a badger sett by:

  • damaging a sett or any part thereof
  • destroying a sett
  • obstructing access to a sett
  • causing a dog to enter a sett
  • disturbing a badger while occupying a sett

The Act defines a badger sett as: “any structure or place which displays signs indicating current use by a badger”.

Further advice and information

For advice and information on all badger-related issues, contact the Badger Trust:

Badger Trust
P.O. Box 708
East Grinstead
RH19 2WN
Email: staff@badgertrust.org.uk
Tel: 08458 287878
Website: www.badger.org.uk
Link: www.gov.uk/government/collections/badger-licences