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Badgers and the law

Three adult badgers foraging at night. © Andrew Forsyth/RSPCA Photolibrary

If you’re concerned that someone has done something illegal to a wild animal, please call our 24-hour Cruelty line on 0300 1234 999 - or contact the police.


Badgers are protected and so are the setts (burrows) they live in. Under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, in England and Wales (the law is different in Scotland) it is an offence to:

  • Wilfully kill, injure or take a badger (or attempt to do so).
  • Cruelly ill-treat a badger.
  • Dig for a badger.
  • Intentionally or recklessly damage or destroy a badger sett, or obstruct access to it.
  • Cause a dog to enter a badger sett.
  • Disturb a badger when it is occupying a sett.


But there are exceptions. Licences to undertake some actions can be issued if it is justified, for example where a badger sett is found on a proposed site for a road or housing development.


Bulldozing a sett in the way of a new road would risk killing or injuring the badgers, so Natural England or Natural Resources Wales may grant a licence allowing the badgers to be carefully excluded, making them move elsewhere in their territory.


For information about the badger cull visit our campaign page. Defra’s policy on reducing bovine tuberculosis can be found on their website.


Our Living with badgers (PDF 384KB) factsheet provides more information and detailed advice is available in Natural England's advisory leaflets.


Protecting badgers

Badgers were given some limited protection in 1973 but weaknesses in the law meant that badger setts were still being dug, bulldozed, blocked or the animals cruelly killed.


We successfully campaigned for better protection and help enforce the law by assisting with police investigations or prosecuting people involved in wildlife crime such as badger digging and baiting.


Undercover RSPCA inspectors have helped bring a number of successful badger digging cases before the courts. Some of these have involved the use of advanced forensic techniques including DNA evidence.