Why badgers are victims of hunting

Did you know that badgers are victims of hunting too? When cub hunting season begins in August and merges into fox hunting season on 1st November, reports of blocked setts seem to increase to local badger groups and other animal protection groups across the country.

If you attend one of the talks by Craig Fellowes, Wildlife Crime Officer and Trainer at the Badger Trust and member of the Badger Persecution Priority Delivery Group, you will see a graph which clearly shows an increase in reports of badger sett interference from the start of the hunting season in November to April, when the fox hunting season comes to an end.

Graph showing sett interference rates from a peak of 123 in February to 42 in July

Early in the morning or the night before, prior to a hunt meet, terrier men from the hunt will go out and block badger setts in the area where the hunt is planning to meet. This is to stop the quarry, namely a fox, from escaping the chase and hiding in a badger sett ruining their “fun”.

Setts can be soft blocked or hard blocked. Soft blocked can consist of sticks or other soft material that badgers can sometimes push their way out of. However, if setts are hard blocked with heavy items or completely filled in and compacted by soil, badgers can suffocate if they have no other exits to get out of and are unable to dig themselves out.

Blocking and interfering with badger setts is illegal

Badgers and their setts are protected by law. So if a blocked sett is found it must be reported to the police immediately via 101 and to the Badger Trust via its reporting system. If you do have knowledge that a hunt was hunting in the area at the time or the previous day, mentioning that can be very helpful and should be included in your report.

During the hunt, if a fox does escape, terrier men will send dogs down into the sett or dig down into it to flush the fox out so the chase can continue. This is also illegal and if you witness this happening please call 999.

North East Essex badger group were recently called to this blocked sett after a hunt was seen hunting in the area.

Blocked badger sett entrance

In Oxfordshire this year whilst the Heythrop hunt was hunting in Swinbrook, this badger sett was found blocked by Three Counties hunt saboteurs.

Badger Sett entrances blocked

Hunting is illegal and if the hunts were laying trails why would they need to block badger setts? If they weren’t chasing foxes, they would not need to be digging them out. Trail hunting is a lie. For more information on trail hunting and how hunts manage to circumnavigate the law, have a look at the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) website.

In June 2020, LACS revealed the impact of hunting on badgers. In the 2019-2020 fox hunting season, which only lasted for four months, LACS revealed that they had received 102 reports of incidents of suspected badger sett blocking. LACS works in partnership with Badger Trust and other organisations to end badger persecution. LACS Head of Enforcement, Steve Harris, is a member of the Badger Persecution Priority Delivery group which meets quarterly. The latest newsletter is below:

Emily Lawrence

Regional Campaign Manager