When badgers cause, or apparently cause, damage
to property, the effects often look worse than they really are
and the owners may be sufficiently aggrieved to want the badgers
killed or removed. However, there are many actions which can be
taken before this is necessary, or even considered. Sometimes
this is as easy as fastening your dustbin lid down securely, for
example, by fastening a strong "bungee-cord" through the lid and the handles!
Badgers have been persecuted for centuries, and on
several occasions Parliament has decided to pass laws which protect the
badger and its underground home (called a sett).
Accordingly, the law does not allow any-one to kill a
badger - except under the most extreme conditions (as described below).
It is easier to go through the scenarios in which killing
a badger is permitted, and then to see what is left. The law which applies is The Protection of Badgers Act 1992.
If you are accidentally (and unavoidably) involved
in a motor vehicle accident with a badger; as a result of which the
badger dies; that killing was not illegal.
If you come across a badger which is seriously
injured, then killing it as an act of mercy is not illegal.
Killing a badger for scientific research purposes,
as authorised by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.
There is also an argument that killing a badger is not
illegal, if that badger was caught inside the hen-house and seen to be
committing the act of killing poultry for the first time, if the killing
of those poultry could not have been foreseen. Given that poultry-owners
should expect their poultry to be prone to being attacked by dogs, foxes
or mink; they should maintain poultry-houses to a high-enough standard to
exclude all wildlife that might pose a threat. Accordingly, our view is
that this defence would prove very difficult to rely on; as they would
have to show that they caught the rogue badger "red-handed"
committing its first offence. If there had been previous badger damage;
or the badger was a well known "villain", they would have no
option in law, apart from applying for a badger licence.
There is no basis in law
for killing a badger based on nuisance value (such as domestic
There is no basis in law for killing a badger based on
a desire to build on or otherwise alter the use of land. If some-one wants
to build a motorway through a badger sett, the badgers can not be killed.
With a suitable badger licence, they can be re-homed, but killing is not
So far as vets and wildlife rescuers are concerned,
there is no provision for killing (euthanising or culling) a badger because no-one
locally has the "correct facilities" or the
"knowledge" to look after it. Whilst
killing a badger with a serious injury is allowed as an act of mercy; the
killing of a badger with a non-serious injury is not. If in doubt, contact
or Secret World
or even your local Badger
Group before you administer a lethal dose or a lethal drug. The
and Secret World
extensive experience of treating, rehabilitating and releasing badgers
back into the wild; and they both follow an excellent Code of Conduct
concerned with wild badgers. It would be a terrible shame to extinguish
the life of a well-loved wild animal, when a single telephone call might
have found a solution. Euthanising a badger without good reason could also
justify a criminal complaint being made under The Protection of Badgers Act 1992
which would not be brilliant news for any veterinary practice!
In the event that badgers are causing serious
damage to land, crops, poultry, or any other form of property (such as a
house), then they may be killed under licence. However, such killing will be permitted
only under the terms of a licence; and the killing may not take place
until the licence has been granted. The term serious effectively means
something like subsidence or structural damage or something else which
gives rise to a serious health and safety problem. Badgers digging under a
church tower could be regarded as potentially serious, but an isolated
hole in a remote corner of an otherwise beautiful garden would not.
It can also means repeated incidents of serious damage
to crops, where there is a high likelihood that the damage will be
repeated in the future and can not be prevented by other means. In the
majority of cases, further repeats of the damage may be prevented by
appropriate fencing; or if the
particular crop will
not be grown again at that location. There is no basis in law for killing
a badger as a "pre-emptive-strike", just in case it
might do some damage at some time in the future.
At one time, for example, badgers who excavated setts
under roads were almost routinely killed. Nowadays, it is possible to
strip the top couple of feet off the road, fit a layer of reinforced
concrete panels, and re-lay the tarmac over the top. In this way the
badgers can still have the safety and security of their setts; and the road
builders have the satisfaction of having done one permanent
badger-friendly job; rather than having to come back year after year to kill more
and more badgers and do more and more road repairs.
Generally, as the environmental lobby becomes more vocal
and important, the circumstances in which badgers are killed can be
expected to become fewer in number. As badgers are a protected species, we
think this is entirely appropriate.