Natural England - Badgers


Advice, licensing and legislation relating to badgers.


Legal protection

Badgers and their setts are protected under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992external link, which makes it illegal to kill, injure or take badgers or to interfere with a badger sett. The term ‘badger sett’ is normally understood to mean the system of tunnels and chambers, in which badgers live, and their entrances and immediate surrounds. The 1992 Act specifically defines a sett as “any structure or place which displays signs indicating current use by a badger”. Guidance on interpretation of this definition: (29kb)pdf document. Interference with a sett includes blocking tunnels or damaging the sett in any way. Please note the consequential amendments to the above legislation as a result of the Hunting Act 2004external link.

Activities affecting badgers or their setts which would otherwise be illegal can be carried out under licence where there is suitable justification and the problem cannot be resolved by alternative means.

Please note: licences to kill or take badgers are only issued in exceptional circumstances. The majority of problems posed by badgers can be resolved non-lethally, normally by the partial or complete closure of the sett of the badger(s) causing the problem under licence. See advice, licences and how to apply below.

Advice and leaflets

Advice leafletSummaryAudience
Advice to householders TIN004external linkBadger problems and solutions - primarily in gardensHouseholders
Problems with badgers in rural areas TIN005external linkGuidance on legal protection, agricultural and flood defence problemsFarmers, landowners
Badger problems: use of electric fencing to prevent agricultural damage TIN027external linkBadger fencing - details for exclusionFarmers, landowners
Badger gates in rabbit-proof fencing TIN026external linkPreventing damage to rabbit fencing by allowing badger accessFarmers, landowners
Using one-way gates on badger sett entrances (use requires a licence) TIN025external linkAdvice on one-way gates for licensed sett closure. For damage cases apply on WML-A01: (422kb)pdf documentHouseholders, farmers, landowners
Forest operations and badger setts FCPG009external link
(Forestry Commission)
Advice for foresters on legal protection and problems with badger settsForesters
Badgers and development IN75external linkGuidance on badgers and licensing for developments where a licence is required apply on WML-A24: (461kb)pdf documentDevelopers, ecological consultants
Guidance on what constitutes “disturbance” to badgers in their setts WML-G16: (25kb)pdf documentAdvice to help understand what is considered to be 'disturbance'General
Guidance on “current use” of a badger sett WML-G17: (29kb)pdf documentAdvice to help understand what 'current use' meansGeneral
Bovine TBexternal link (AHVLA all guidance)Practical steps to reduce risk of TB in cattleFarmers

Additional guidance specifically related to licensing only is included in the section below.

Licences and how to apply

Licences for activities prohibited under wildlife legislation are only issued for specific purposes, where there is valid justification. Your activity may be possible under a Class licence detailed below but you must ensure you are eligible and abide by their conditions.

Otherwise please apply for an individual tailored licence, each form below explains what you must provide. Licences and advice are provided free of charge. See our licences page for more information on: who needs a licence, what types there are and how long they take to obtain.

Class licences

DescriptionWho can use this?Registration
WML CL-26 To permit interference with badger (Meles meles) setts where there is a requirement to conduct forestry operations: (241kb)pdf document
Licence report form: (91kb)word document
Persons registered to use this licence and their assistants, who are employees of the Forestry Commission or Forestry Commission-approved ContractorsYou need to notify Customer Services Wildlife Licensing in writing that you wish to use the licence
WML CL-27 To permit interference with badger (Meles meles) setts where there is a need to conduct routine water course or drainage maintenance operations: (190kb)pdf document
Licence report form : (91kb)word document

Persons registered to use this licence and their assistants, who are employees or contractors of the Internal Drainage Boards

You need to notify Customer Services Wildlife Licensing in writing that you wish to use the licence

Individual licences

Application form/example caseGuidanceReport/Renewal
In relation to development: WML-A24: (461kb)pdf document  Please note from 1 January 2011 the Citizens charter response time will be 30 days for these cases. (e.g. housing developments, pipelines, new fences. Includes guidance on method statements.)

Badgers and Development: IN7.5external link

WML-LR24: (215kb)word document
In relation to damage, agriculture, forestry, drainage and preventing the spread of disease: WML-A01: (422kb)pdf document (e.g. badger setts in fields requiring cultivation or forests to be felled or thinned)

If use of one-way gates is planned leaflet: TIN025external link

WML-LR01: (227kb)word document
For the purpose of preservation or archaeological investigation of a scheduled monument: WML-A26: (428kb)pdf document (e.g. badger sett found within the area of an archaeological investigation. Includes guidance on method statements.)WML-LR01: (227kb)word document
For science, education and conservation, ringing or marking: WML-A25: (432kb)pdf document (e.g. trapping and marking badgers as part of a research project) 
Template for References: (74kb)word document

Guidance on references for applicants: (47kb)pdf document

WML-LR25: (106kb)word document

Bovine TB and badger control in England

Latest news and background information on Bovine TB and badger control in England.

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Further information