Badgers: licences for surveys and research

Most badger survey techniques, including bait marking, don’t require a licence – but you may need one for research involving badgers.


Basic badger surveys don’t require a licence, provided that you:

  • conduct the survey carefully
  • avoid damaging badger setts
  • avoid disturbing badgers within setts

Most badger surveys involve looking for badger paths and other signs (e.g. dung-pits or latrines) and then finding your way from these to their setts. You can then survey the sett itself to try to work out how it’s used.

Find out more about badger surveying on the Scottish Badgers website.

Bait marking

Bait marking doesn’t require a licence, as long as it is carried out:

  • in line with best practice
  • by a suitably experienced and competent person

Bait marking lets us map the territory of a particular social group of badgers. It involves tracing small, harmless coloured beads put out in food for badgers to the latrines they use to mark the boundaries of their territory.

Bait marking is often used:

  • where development proposals could affect one or more social groups of badgers
  • as part of a badger protection plan

Science and research

You should apply to us for a licence if your work could otherwise result in an offence in relation to badgers (e.g. if badgers are to be marked or tagged).

To apply for a licence for scientific or research work, email [email protected].

You should include:

  • your name, address and telephone number
  • full details of your project – covering what and who will be involved, and where and when
  • a completed licence application reference form (if applicable)

If this is your first licence application for this activity, we’ll need two references from you. Your referees should be familiar with your work in this area and able to vouch for your competence.

Licence changes and renewals

You should get in touch if you wish to amend a licence. But check your licence conditions first: you may be able to appoint agents and assistants without having to get them named on your licence.

Find out about adding persons to a licence.

You must also remember to contact us to renew your licence. Licences aren’t renewed automatically.

Find out more

Data Protection notice

Guidance note for field surveys and monitoring where field workers are supported by NatureScot or have licences from NatureScot

Accompanying notes for survey and monitoring licences

Guidance notes for providing supporting information for badger licence applications

Badger - current use guidance


If you already have a licence number, include it in the subject line of your email, or have it to hand when you call.

Licensing Team

01463 725364

[email protected]

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