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Badger Crime
Badgers have an unenviable record of persecution in this country; they remain one of Britain's most persecuted species with an estimated 30,000 becoming the victims of wildlife crime each year.  The most unthinkable crimes are the malicious ones, which include deliberate sett interference and blocking, badger digging and baiting, snaring, poisoning and unlicensed shooting.   But badgers also suffer as a result of negligent crimes, occasionally by unwitting homeowners finding an unexpected hole in their garden, but mostly from construction, agricultural and forestry operations, where sett entrances may be filled with debris of various types, tunnels damaged by ground movement or badgers poisoned such as through mis-use of pesticides.  ​


We might like to think that badger crime doesn't occur in leafy Berkshire but sadly it can be closer to home than you might think.   It is probably fair to say that Berkshire brocks suffer more from negligent than malicious crimes but we have, sadly, also come across instances of sett blocking and digging.  And as long as snares remain legal, they pose a threat to non-target species such as badgers. 

​Craig Fellowes, Wildlife Crime Officer at the national Badger Trust, has recently observed that "Badger crime exists on many levels, conducted by different types of people and for different reasons.  Blatant abuse through badger baiting - using dogs to attack badgers for 'sport' - is a major problem.  Totally different, but still a serious threat to badgers, is development of land, which encroaches and sometimes obliterates badger habitat.  This can be illegal if not approached with due regard to the law, licensing and respect for this protected animal.'

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Protection of Badgers Act 1992

Recognising the volume of crimes against badgers and their setts, Parliament passed the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, making them our most protected mammal.    Essentially, the Act makes it an offence (with exceptions) to:

  • wilfully kill, injure or take a badger;

  • cruelly ill-treat a badger, for example by digging for them;

  • interfere with a badger sett by damaging, destroying, obstructing, causing a dog to enter or disturbing an occupied sett - either by intent or by negligence and;

  • sell, offer for sale or have possession of a live or dead badger (of part thereof).

The penalties for infringing the Protection of Badgers Act include substantial fines and prison terms regardless of whether the sett is on private property or public land. 

If a sett is genuinely problematic and all measures to avoid disturbing the badgers have been tried, then developers, landowners, farmers, homeowners etc may apply to Natural England for a licence to take appropriate action.   If you need to find out more, please see these Government pages:

Without such a licence being granted, any action to an occupied sett is illegal.

                      Stopping Badger Crime

The Badger Trust have released a short film, Stopping Badger Crime, which aims to raise public awareness of crimes against badgers and encourage reporting.


This hard-hitting film reveals the different methods used to persecute badgers, how to recognise the signs, and shows how recording and reporting badger crime helps investigators bring offenders to justice.

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What you can do

Practice the 3 Rs - Recognise, Record and Report!


Be ready to recognise signs of badger-crime.  Look out for:

  • sett entrances blocked with multiple thick branches, rocks, concrete blocks etc;

  • sett entrances filled or covered with other materials such as earth, slurry or manure;

  • signs of digging and enlarged holes with square cuts;

  • spades or other tools in the vicinity of a sett;

  • fly tipping near a sett which could cause obstruction or other danger to the badgers, eg. asbestos.

Stay alert!


If suspected perpetrators are present, do not approach them.  Simply record the location, leave quietly and call the police.


Otherwise for locations where you suspect a wildlife crime (either malicious or negligent) has previously taken place, please:

  • record as many details as you can of your observations including:

o   signs of criminal damage

o   signs of recent activity by badgers

o   the date

  • record the site name and exact location, ideally with a National Grid Reference or what3words;

  • ·take date-stamped photos (if possible include an object in the photo to indicate scale) 

  • record the whole site by means of video and possibly a rough sketch to illustrate locations of all points of note;

  • try not to touch anything or disturb the scene by walking around unnecessarily – treat it as a potential crime scene; 

  • do not touch or remove dead animals or birds in case they have been poisoned;

  • do not change your photos later in any way; they may be important evidence and need to be unadulterated.



Contact the police and report to us with the crime number so we can follow up:

What numbers to phone:

If you suspect a badger crime has already happened:

  1. Call the police on their non-emergency number 101

  2. Ensure you get a Crime Reference number for your call

  3. Report the incident via our online form

If you suspect a badger crime or suspicious incident is in progress:

  1. Call 999 and ask for police assistance

  2. Ensure you get a Crime Reference number for your call

  3. Report the incident afterwards via our online form

If there are suspicious circumstances you would like to discuss further, please email us for advice. 


In all cases, your personal safety is priority.   On no account should you personally approach people you suspect of wrong-doing such as digging at a sett.   They are likely to be very violent people and may be armed or accompanied by aggressive fighting dogs.

Stay away!

What we do

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  • We, together with our dedicated members, survey across all of  Berkshire, monitoring known setts and finding new ones, always alert for signs of suspicious activity;

  • We report suspicious activity to the Thames Valley Police Wildlife Crime Officers and the Badger Trust;

  • We challenge developers and property owners on inappropriate actions and seek to educate them on badgers and the law;

  • We offer advice to homeowners with concerns at badger presence in gardens; 

  • We liaise with Councils and others to ensure that construction and farming work is carried out legally.

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