Badger Trust continues its campaign to increase sentences for horrific badger crimes by backing proposals put forward by Defra in its Nature Recovery Green Paper (out for consultation until 11 May 2022).
As part of the paper, Defra has proposed sentencing for crimes against wild animals be brought into line with the Animal Welfare Act (2021). This would mean that sentences for crimes against badgers and their setts could be increased to five years from the present six-month maximum under the Protection of Badgers Act (1992). This development comes as we near the 30th anniversary of the act that gave special protection for badgers.
Peter Hambly, Executive Director of Badger Trust, commented:
‘We welcome Defra’s green paper proposals to strengthen sentencing for crimes against badgers. The number of recorded incidents of illegal persecution against the badger makes it one of the most abused species in England and Wales.’
Badgers are persecuted possibly by a wider cross-section of society than any other species.
‘They are abused and tormented in an array of crimes, from sett interference, badger baiting, shooting, snaring and trapping, to poisoning, hunting and lamping. We need higher sentencing to act as a deterrent. Higher sentencing would also lead to these crimes against badgers being recordable by the police and more police resources allocated, which would also deter this criminal activity. So many people are appalled by the awful recent cases of gangs attacking and baiting badgers. This has to stop.’
Badger Trust also asks for police to have powers to enter land where crimes against badgers have taken place, again in line with the Animal Welfare Act.
Badger Trust’s PBA30 campaign is working to increase the visibility of these crimes and stop the persecution of an iconic, native mammal, often by ruthless and violent gangs.
Badger Trust is calling for a change in sentencing options for crimes under the Protection of Badgers Act (1992) (‘PBA’). Badger Trust supports extending sentencing for badger crimes, such as badger baiting and shooting, from six months to five years, in line with the recent changes to the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021.
Under the Animal Welfare Act, those committing the most severe animal cruelty crimes to a domestic animal in England and Wales can face prosecution with up to five years in prison. Similar animal cruelty committed against a wild badger can only lead to a maximum of a six-month prison sentence under the Protection of Badgers Act.
2022 marks the 30th anniversary of the Protection of Badgers Act (1992), a landmark piece of legislation in badger protection. During the three decades since the passing of the PBA, sentencing related to animal welfare has moved on, but it seems the Act is stuck in time, with considerable inequality now present.
Hambly added: ‘The Protection of Badgers Act received Royal Assent 30 years ago when a six-month prison sentence for badger cruelty was a landmark win for badgers. Thirty years later, our PBA30 campaign aims to get sentencing in line with broader animal welfare policy and law changes. Those who commit these crimes against badgers need to get the sentences they deserve.