Badger deterrents
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Chemicals used to deter badgers

The following pesticide products have now been banned and are now longer available for manufacture, storage, distribution, sale or use:

People have tried using certain chemicals to deter different animals. We will describe what we have known people to try; but read the following "Licensing System" so you understand the legal risks they are taking in trying any chemical deterrent!

Licensing System

Various chemicals are licensed by the government for use in defined circumstances and purposes. For example, a chemical might be licensed for use as a part of a legal drug to be used by a vet as an animal medicine, but it might be illegal to use that same chemical or drug for human medicine or any other use. In the same way a particular chemical might be licensed for use as a pesticide, but it is illegal to use it for something else. Until a few years ago there was only a single chemical (sold since 1896 under the brand name of Renardine/RenCoco) which was licensed as a deterrent to be used against badgers (and foxes, rabbits, cats, dogs and moles). Renardine was supplied as a smelly sticky brown oil or as a garden mulch called RenCoco (which was cocoa shells which had been pressure-treated with the Renardine oil). These products were used to banish most pest species from Gardens, Golf Greens, Farms, Small Holdings, Parks and Playing Fields. As a foul-smelling chemical deterrent it worked pretty well if applied correctly.

However, the active chemical in Renardine was based on oil extracted from processed animal bones. As from 24th March 2005, the pesticide license was withdrawn across the whole of Europe (including the UK) - this was following the concerns over BSE transferring from cattle and into the human food chain. It was believed that some people were using Renardine near food crops, which could have provided a tiny risk of BSE transmission into fruit and vegetables; which was why the politicians agreed to the chemical being banned. Because the pesticide licence was withdrawn, the Renardine/RenCoco products were withdrawn from sale, meaning that it is now illegal to buy, stock, sell or even own any Renardine/RenCoco product. If you have any Renardine/RenCoco products you must not use them and you can even be prosecuted for still owning them! They need to be disposed of by taking them to a specialist waste disposal facility, such as one run by the local authority. They must not be placed in normal household waste.

Accordingly, the situation as at August 2010, is that there is no chemical deterrent which has been licensed to deter badgers in the UK. Using ANY chemical of any kind to try and deter badgers is technically illegal, and opens you to the risk of criminal prosecution. It remains illegal to use other garden products to try and deter badgers - even is such use does not cause any harm to the badgers or their setts and even if the area to be protected is a very important one.

Really Dumb Ideas

Some people has applied powdered Cayenne pepper to lawns to try and stop dogs and cats doing their mess on it. There is no evidence that this works against badgers; and there is a real risk that you or a child will get the pepper in its eyes; which is very nasty.

Commercial Products

Products Like Scoot and GetOffMyGarden have not been approved to deter badgers, but some people say that they do work against foxes.

Old Wives' Tales

Like a lot of animals, badgers rely very heavily on their sense of smell to tell them what is nice and what is not so nice. All these methods are claimed to work on the principle that the badger will avoid foul-smelling things, and it will not cross a barrier if it smell bad enough. But, if the badger is hungry enough; it will put up with a lot!

Various chemical options have been tried with some, little or no success. The products were are talking about here are all based on naturally-occurring substances, so they might not be too toxic in the environment. Here are what we have heard of:

None of these have been passed by the Licensing System, so they are all technically illegal as badger deterrents!

Male Human Urine

The theory here is that the smell of male human urine will overpower the badgers keen sense of smell and convince it this is an an area it does not want to come into. No-one seems to have done any tests as to whether the deterrent effect works best with fresh or stale urine; or whether the effect comes from the urine or the uric acid or the ammonia-like compounds which might be within it. If you wanted to give this a try, having a nightly beer might mean you can produce enough to treat a slightly larger area. Unless you live in a very private area; it's better to apply the treatment using a specially marked watering can.

Olbas Oil

Olbas Oil contains eucalyptus oil, menthol, cajuput oil, clove oil, juniper berry oil, wintergreen oil and mint oil. All these oils are fairly smelly; and it is believed that they are disliked by many animals. You can buy Olbas Oil from the chemist or a large supermarket, and you will be able to buy most of its main ingredients from any-one who sells Aromatherapy products.

Literally a few drops can be applied to a small area (such as a gap under a fence); the hope being that the vapours hit the animals nose to deter it from coming under the gap. You need to refresh the smell periodically (after heavy rain for example).

Vicks VapoRub

Vicks VapoRub contains turpentine oil, camphor, eucalyptus oil, and menthol. Vicks is perhaps not as practical as Olbas Oil since it is in the form of an oily ointment, rather than a liquid. Again you can buy Vicks VapoRub from the chemist or a large supermarket, and you will be able to buy most of its main ingredients from an Aromatherapist.

Again, you would apply literally a thin smear to a small area (such as gap under a fence) so the smell wafts around at the nose-height of the animal. You could also melt a small amount on hot water, which you could paint onto a small area. You need to refresh the smell periodically too.

Smelly Washing Line

The previous methods are fine for small areas (like gaps in fences), but people have wanted to protect larger areas, such as around prize vegetable patches and allotments. Here you can use things like old socks, torn-up bedding and any other old fabrics to make a washing line to hang round the area, so the animal can get a nose of the smelly washing as it gets to the barrier. The fabrics would be impregnated with a smelly chemical (such as Olbas Oil, Vicks VapoRub, Citronella, Tea Tree Oil or urine) so the smell wafts around in the air. You would be better to use natural fabrics (such as cotton) as these will hold on to the smell better than man-made ones like nylon.

The advantage of the smelly washing line idea is that the smell is on the washing line and not permanently embedded in the environment; and you can take the washing line down when you need to - either to refresh the smell or remove it once the crops have been harvested.