Protected species: badgers

This shy, nocturnal mammal has long been persecuted and is protected today under a dedicated piece of legislation.

Both badgers and their setts are protected under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 as amended by the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011.

Setts are networks of underground tunnels in which badgers live. Most social groups of badgers have a number of setts within the territory that they use.

You can see our summary of offences in relation to the badger below. For the definitive list of offences, you should consult the actual legislation.

Discover more about the badger and how it lives.

Offences: badger

Offences under the Act include:

  • wilfully taking, injuring or killing a badger
  • cruelty to a badger
  • intentional or reckless interference with a badger sett
  • sale or possession of a badger
  • marking or ringing of a badger

Interfering with a badger sett includes:

  • damaging or destroying a sett or any part of it
  • obstructing access to a sett
  • disturbing a badger while it is in a sett
  • causing or allowing a dog to enter a badger sett

How to identify a badger sett

The 1992 Act defines a badger sett as “any structure or place which displays signs indicating current use by a badger”.

Our guidance can help you to identify a badger sett to inform your decision-making. To assess what might or might not constitute a sett, you must monitor the potential sett and record field signs.

Read the Licensing Guidance: What is a badger sett?


Licensing allows named individuals to carry out actions that could otherwise constitute an offence. If you’re planning any activities that could affect badgers or their setts, you must make sure you stay within the law.

Find out more

Badgers and licensing


Protected species advice for developers - legal protection for badgers


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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