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In 1992, the Protection of Badgers Act gave badgers across the UK unrivalled protection due to the sheer volume of cruelty and interference with both badgers and their setts.

Despite this protection, thousands of badgers every year across the UK meet horrific fates due to both the barbaric acts of cruelty and illegal use of machinery in otherwise legal activities such as development and farming. The most prevalent wildlife crimes involving badgers include: development related, farming related, land clearance, shooting, badger baiting, poisoning, trapping, sett interference's and gassing.

Badgers and their setts are legally protected from intentional cruelty and from the results of lawful human activities illegal threats to badgers include:

Badger-digging and baiting


Poisoning (including misuse of pesticides)


Sett interference

Illegal activities by some fox hunts

Sett-stopping by fox hunts




Relevant Legislation
Relevant Legislation

The main legislation protecting badgers is the Protection of the 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

Posses 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 Protection of Badgers Act 1992 outlines the protection badgers receive under the law and the exceptions. Badgers are also protected under Schedule 6 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and depending on the situation the Animal Welfare Act, Abandonment of Animals, Wild Mammals Protection Act and the Hunting Act may be considered. 

Road and Housing Development

Under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, development is defined as "...the carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land, or the making of any material change in the use of any buildings or other land".

When applying for planning permission, developers are expected to be aware of protected areas and species where the development proposes to take place.

Find out more about works where licenses may or may not be needed (England). 

Road & Housing Development

Forestry and Agricultural Operations

Operations within woodlands may come into conflict with badgers and their setts. Felling, the removal of timber, developments, cultivation and quarrying, if carried out near a badgers sett, may risk an offence under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. 

Restricting or avoiding operations near badger setts is the best way to avoid damage or disturbance. However, where work is to be carried out near to a badger sett it is suggested that a 20-metre protection zone is put in place around the sett, from each entrance.  This aims to protect any underground tunnels from risk of collapse.

Where work within the 20-metre protection zone is deemed unavoidable, a license may be needed. Any works carried out near to a badger sett during breeding season (December to June) may also require a license from the appropriate Licensing authority (Natural England, Natural Resources Wales). 

Forestry & Agricultural Operations

Farming Operations: Sett Interference


Much the same as for forestry, agricultural operations carried out in the vicinity of a badger sett may also need a license.


Ploughing and the harvesting of crops are the most common cases where offences are committed. A protection zone of 30-metres is suggested as a guideline to avoid damage or disturbance to the badgers and their sett. Ploughing is also usually limited to a depth of 30cm to avoid damaging the structure of the sett. 

Farming Operations:Sett Interference
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