Badgers have a long history of cruelty and persecution in the UK, spanning hundreds of years. To this day, badgers remain one of the most persecuted species in the UK despite having one of the highest levels of protection in law. From blood sports to development concerns, thousands of badgers become the victims of wildlife crimes each year.
However, very few end up being brought to justice, with outdoor crime scenes especially difficult. Badger Trust training for police forces in England and Wales aims to ensure those police officers arriving on the scene know how to identify a badger sett and evidence of badger crime.
I joined a Badger Trust police training session at Essex Police HQ with around 20 officers ready, like me, to be briefed on all things badger.
Craig Fellowes, Wildlife and Crime Training Officer for Badger Trust with over 30 years of wildlife crime experience, took the officers through the training presentation. It was great seeing all the officers so engaged and asking questions about badgers in general and the law in particular.
The officers were aware they had to collect evidence of the crimes against the badger and the sett very carefully and collect more comprehensive evidence that could help in prosecutions under various wildlife acts.
Badgers and their setts are legally protected. The Protection of Badgers Act 1992 outlines the protection badgers receive under the law and the exceptions. Schedule 6 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 also protects badgers and, depending on the situation, the Animal Welfare Act, Abandonment of Animals, Wild Mammals Protection Act and the Hunting Act. That’s a lot to consider.
The videos of badger cruelty were brutal for everyone to watch but necessary to work out what crimes to charge offenders. Crimes against badgers range from malicious crimes, such as