Badgers and dogs that are used in criminal activity surrounding badgers/setts, receive legal protection in one way or another from the:

Penalties include fines and imprisonment.

The Police have a variety of powers of arrest/access under these and other Acts.

In essence - it is illegal to:

  • take or ill-treat a badger (by digging out, snaring, baiting, trapping)
  • interfere or destroy a badger sett
  • fill/block a sett entrance at any other time by anything
  • put a dog up against a badger either in a sett or elsewhere

Exceptions may be granted by applying for a licence BEFORE ANY HUMAN DISTRUBANCE/ACTIVITY TAKES PLACE, via DEFRA or Natural England, for instance:

  • where a pet dog has entered the sett and has not found a way out
  • where digging and tunnels have encroached under existing roads, crops or buildings

In the case of setts in the way of new developments a request might be made to have it removed completely.

Ignorance is not a defence - simply, a landowner or sub-contractor cannot claim he is removing a rabbit warren, neither can a hunt claim they have sent a dog down a hole to flush a fox etc.

Developers must be aware of their responsibilities regarding environmental impact surveys and should consult widely; the County Biodiversity Action Plan will also inform developers about the status of badgers in any particular area.

Emergencies (Disturbance 'in progress' at a sett)

If you see suspicious activity at a badger sett (people with spades, dogs, bags etc) please contact the police using 999 with as much information as you can without putting yourself at risk, as it stands to reason individuals involved in badger-related crime are by nature aggressive.

The police will want to know

  • precise location
  • how many people, ages, dress/appearance
  • how many dogs, what type/appearance
  • what equipment - how many spades, bags etc
  • Registration number type and colour of any vehicles parked up

It is always possible that rabbits or foxes are the intended quarry of the individuals. However, we believe that it is for these individuals to prove they have the authority to be on the land doing what they are doing and we hope that the Police are able to get that information confirmed before evidence is lost and a crime goes undetected and a criminal prosecution is not able to take place.

Damage to a sett

Contact Durham County Badger Group with exact location and they will visit the sett, record the details and follow up with appropriate authorities. If you are able to take a photograph and email it with your report, so much the better.
If the damage very recent, please consider the area as a scene of crime and inform the Police on 08456 043 043 and DCBG.

Dead badger on the road side

If the badger is by the road please let us know the location. We record these casualties so that we can identify 'black spots' and suggest ways the Highways authorities can reduce the danger.

Usually the cleansing departments of the various areas quickly remove the bodies. DCBG does not remove dead road casualties but if the death is in the least suspicious, please get in touch.

Badger (injured or not) found above ground during the day

Leave well alone, badgers are very likely to protect themselves if they feel trapped. Call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 for advice.

Badger caught in a snare

If the badger is still alive, please call 999 and report the incident to the Police and the RSPCA. If the RSPCA are not able to attend immediately, a Vet should be contacted so that the animal's continued pain and suffering can be stopped. Please note that we do not have the physical resources to care for or rehabilitate a badger in these circumstances.

If the badger is dead, please report the incident to Durham County Badger Group with the exact location and they will visit and subsequently report it to the appropriate organisations/authorities.

If you can take a photos of any of these incidents, so much the better.

Whatever you think of snares, it is a fact that there are legal snares. There are 2 types. These are locking which are illegal and free-running which sadly, are legal.

It is also a fact of life that badgers, fox, pet dogs, sheep etc get caught in snares set for vermin/rabbits.

  • A legal snare is set in the right place (e.g. not on a badger path) and is free-running.
  • A free-running snare set on a badger path is not legal.
  • A free-running snare that is not checked every 24 hours in not legal.
  • Report any illegal snares or positioning to the police and us (exact location and a picture would be useful).



It is unlikely that the officers attending a badger or sett incident will know very much about badgers and if the RSPCA is not in attendance, the Badger Group would recommend the officer seeks advise from their Wildlife Liasion Officer or the RSPCA. We recommend that if in doubt, assume it is an active badger sett and to be very sceptical about explanations given by people equipped with dogs and spades.

If the incident is a criminal offence, the Police have a wide range of Powers of Arrest under a variety of Acts and scenes of crime (including any vehicles) could provide a substantial amount of supporting evidence


It is occasionally very difficult for an officer to attend, simply because of the nature of their job and the size of their territory but they should be able to give advice over the telephone.


Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the regulatory body for the veterinary services profession in the UK. Their Profession Standards provide guidance that they will attend to wildlife injuries, although many will not have experience with badgers.


There are very few establishments in the area which have the facilities and knowledge to care for a badger and then be able to successfully release it back into the wild. The most recent research suggests that releases are not particularly successful. On balance it, is cruel to release a badger which has already been stressed by injury and capture to a very doubtful fate.

Protection Guides

Badgery Problems Problems badgers face
Badger Legislation and Persecution Information for the public on the Law covering Badgers and what to do about breaches.

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