Badgers and their setts are fully protected by The Protection of Badgers Act. Badgerland stand 100% behind this legislation. For centuries badgers were an abused and tortured species, which are rightly now deserving of their protected status.
In principle, the legislation works OK; albeit with some exceptions. The Police, the Crown Prosecution and the Courts have not always taken wildlife crime as seriously as they might do, with the consequence that some areas are a little neglected. We would prefer to see wildlife-related crime being classed as a notifiable offence, which would mean that accurate figures would be available for the number of prosecutions and convictions achieved across the nation. In this way it would be possible to see which areas were serious about tackling wildlife-crime and which needed to make a more determined effort. We would also like to see alternative sentencing strategies for those convicted of badger-crime - perhaps if a penalty included a term that an offender could not work as a game-keeper for x years, or could not own, keep or use a firearm, catapult, bow or crossbow, or could not be in possession or ownership of a pesticide, a ferret, a raptor or a dog or had an extended vehicle driving ban, it might reduce the numbers of badgers which are caught indiscriminately in wire snares or poisoned. We would also like to see judges make order banning criminals from putting up or sharing pages on YouTube, FaceBook or selling goods on the likes of eBay.
We would also like to see national government introduce laws which cover the whole nation; and which did not allow certain areas to "opt-out" of or weaken wildlife protection. We would like to see a mandatory jail term for badger baiters, across the whole of the UK.
Where badger protection falls down is where the area around a sett can be developed to such an extent that leads the sett unharmed but unviable for a clan of badgers. We would like to see badger foraging areas completely protected from development and exclusion too. Legislation like this would still allow farmers to go about their business with crops and animals, but would prevent the "concreting over" of badger territories and foraging areas. In this way, areas of greenbelt would become far more like the wildlife-friendly parks which many people hope for.
We would also like to see more steps taken to expand areas suitable for badgers and other wildlife. In our view certain areas of the country form the basis for very good badger habitats, but are not currently occupied due to adverse ground conditions or a lack of badgers being nearby. We would like to see farmers able to get as much money for creating badger habitats and homes as for doing traditional faming activities. The Scottish Highlands and Islands are potentially very good badger territory, but have few badgers; and similar considerations apply to some areas of Scotland, the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District.
We would also like to see more determined efforts made by various animal charities to defend, protect and preserve wildlife, so it can live a safe, natural lifestyle. In our experience the Secret World stands out "head and shoulders" above other charities when it comes to badger issues. Some individuals within the Badger Trust, the HuntSabs, the RSPCA and the SSPCA also have very, very good knowledge and experience of badgers. However, we have had personal experience of some people who work for the RSPCA who know next to nothing about badgers but are unable to recognise or admit the fact. We'd like to see organisations which do not specialise in badgers admit the fact that they may have limited knowledge in certain areas; and hand over the management of badger casualties to a professional specialist body like the Secret World.
The HuntSabs in particular have made very determined efforts to protect badgers from being hunted and culled. As the court cases have achieved little to prevent badger culls, it has been inspiring to see sabs taking direct action to save the badgers that the backers of court-room action have failed to protect.
We would also like to see "Centres of Excellence" for badgers in different areas of the UK. At present, the most famous and successful badger-rehabilitation charity is Secret World in Somerset in the South-West of England. We would be very strongly in favour of having several centres of excellence across the whole of the UK and Ireland. This would mean that areas of the country like Scotland, Northern Ireland and the North of England had easy and speedy access to a rehab centre; and it would also make it easier to have regional teams of vets who really understood badger-medicine. We have heard too many stories of where a vet has put a badger to sleep because he or she did not have the facilities to deal with it or because there was not a local rehab centre.
So far as Badgerland are concerned, it is our view that badgers are wild creatures who ought to live a life of natural freedom in their protected environment. On occasion, this may mean preventing a property developer from building "just one more" housing development; or keeping land as a wild-green natural space - even though some-one thinks it would be better covered in a sports-centre or floodlights or concrete. After all, a walk through the countryside, is every bit as healthy as a walk on a stainless-steel treadmill in a concrete office-block.
We also take the view that badgers ought to be left pretty much alone to live their lives as they see fit. If we can help them a little, with an occasional handful of peanuts or a bowl of cat food or dog food then that is OK; but we should resist the temptation to place badgers in the confines of a zoo for no more purpose than to entertain us.
As wild animals, we should also let badgers do "their thing" - even if that includes fighting amongst themselves or doing other seemingly unpleasant things. Whilst many people are tempted to try and intervene when a badger has even a minor injury; it can sometimes be more cruel to cause serious stress by removing that badger from the clan; just so it can be treated for something trivial at the vets. The progression of a wild badger up and then down the pecking order of a badger clan is a natural process; and we often do badgers little good by trying to apply human values to badger society.
We do, of course, favour intervening when badgers are in serious trouble. If a badger is dying a slow, painful, protracted death at the roadside, then it remains a humane act of kindness to end its suffering by the use of expert veterinary expertise. Similarly, expert rehabilitation may enable an injured badger to be saved and live a wild life which is worth living. Intervening with young badger cubs can require the patience of a saint, but the benefits can be enormous; as good rehab centres can assemble cubs into a new, loving, happy badger family which will go on to thrive.