National survey of awareness of badger issues released

Record levels of opposition to badger cull recorded

Badger Trust has worked with YouGov to produce a new national survey of awareness of badger protection issues.[1] Questions centred on the controversial ongoing badger cull as well as awareness of badger protection laws as we approach the 30th anniversary of the landmark Protection of Badgers Act (1992).

The Badger Cull

The headline figure is that across England opposition to the badger cull continues to rise.

Just 15% of English adults support the badger cull, whilst 53% oppose and 31% don’t know; meaning more than three times as many oppose the badger cull than support it.

How much do you support or oppose the badger cull in England. 15% support, 53% oppose, 31%don't know

Since the current badger cull began in 2013, opposition from the public has risen, despite the government pouring millions of pounds of taxpayer money into this controversial scheme. In 2014, 36% supported the cull and 41% were opposed.[2] In 2022 those figures have dramatically changed to just 15% supporting the cull and 53% opposing.

Whilst eight more years of culling have seen no end to the bovine TB problem it was supposed to cure, instead, there are fewer and fewer people in favour, and support for the government’s cull policy has halved while millions have been spent and over 140,000 badgers have been killed. With cattle to cattle transmission responsible for over 94% of cases, solutions to the problem of bTB in cattle remain cattle vaccination, better cattle testing, controls on cattle movement and better biosecurity.

In terms of awareness of the badger cull in England (the only country in the UK that has a cull), 61% were aware of the cull and 32% were not aware. Only 6% thought they knew a lot about the cull, which is worrying given the dramatic effect the cull has had on this iconic mammal.

How much if at all, are you aware of the badger cull in England? 55% are aware of it but know little about it, 15% have not heard of it but are interested to know more, 6% are aware and know a lot about it, 17% have not heard about it and are not interested, 8% don't know

Badger Protection

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Protection of Badgers Act (1992) which protects badgers and the setts they live in. Badgers are one of the few wild animals with this kind of protection, in recognition of their status as one of the most persecuted of all species in the UK. Badger Trust is campaigning to increase maximum sentencing under this act from six months to five years in line with other animal welfare protection, addressing the glaring inequality that currently exists for those convicted of the most serious badger cruelty crimes.

Before taking this survey were you aware that badgers are one of the few wild animals in Britain with legal protection covering the animal and its home? 36% yes I was, 55% no i was not, 9% not sure

Only 36% of the Great Britain population were aware that badgers and their setts were protected under the law with 64% unaware or unsure. This shows that awareness of badger protection needs to move up the agenda so we can continue to help this much-loved native animal.

1. All polling figures are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,676 GB adults, of which 1,444 were in England (first two questions were asked to England only). Fieldwork was under