Protection of Badgers Act 30 Years
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 Protection of Badgers Act ('PBA'), sentencing related to animal welfare has moved on and there's a glaring inequality for crimes against badgers. It's time to catch up.
Under the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021, those committing the most serious animal cruelty crimes to a domestic animal in England and Wales can face prosecution with up to 5 years in prison. Similar animal cruelty committed against a wild badger can only be given a maximum of a 6-month prison sentence under the Protection of Badgers Act.
PBA30 Campaign: tougher sentencing to protect badgers
We're marking the 30th anniversary of the Protection of Badgers Act (1992) with a new campaign – PBA30 Act for Badgers. The campaign calls on the Government to bring sentencing under the PBA up-to-date. There is clear inequality and unfairness in current legislation, and Badger Trust wants to see consistency in how the law protects different animals. Badgers deserve to be recognised as sentient beings in need of maximum welfare protection in line with domestic animals. 6 months is no deterrent. 5 years is what is needed.
Together we call on the government to:
Extend the maximum sentence for convictions under the Protection of Badgers Act (1992) from 6 months to 5 years, bringing it into line with Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021. This means offenders would be faced with a 5-year sentence for the abuse of a badger, in the same way as they would for the abuse of a dog used in the same crime.
Make badger persecution notifiable to the Home Office, so that the real level of crime can be accurately assessed, reported on, and tackled. At present wildlife crimes are not recorded in this way and there are no official national statistics. Increasing sentencing would, by default, make a crime under the Protection of Badgers Act (1992) a notifiable offence.
What can you do to Act for Badgers?
You can join the PBA30 campaign and add your voice to our call for better protection for badgers. We’ve written to the Secretary of State, Rt Hon George Eustice to ask him to extend sentencing for badger crime. This would mean sentences for crimes such as badger baiting and shooting would present a real deterrent to badger abusers.
You can write to the Secretary of State and your MP too. The more letters they receive, the more chance we have of bringing about change, and as quickly as possible.
1. Write to the Defra Secretary of State, Rt Hon George Eustice MP – here's a template to get you started.
2. Write to your MP to help them understand the issue and support our call.
How to find your MP's contact details
If they do not provide an email address or address, you can write to them:
House of Commons,
More ways you can Act for Badgers
Throughout 2022 Badger Trust will highlight the great achievement that is the 30th anniversary of the PBA and campaign hard on our call to bring it up to date with current animal welfare legislation. We will recognise and showcase some of the key players, both individuals and organisations, involved with getting the Protection of Badgers Act (1992) to the statute books.
You’ll have several campaign moments to speak up for badgers and discover lots of different ways to fundraise to help power all our campaign work for our stripey friends.
GIVE A GIFT TO FUND OUR WORK
All gifts large or small make a difference to badgers.
A gift of £30 to mark 30 years of the Protection of Badgers Act will help fund the work of our Wildlife Crime and Training Officer.
We are 100% voluntary funded by donations from people like you. None of our work can happen without your gift.
SPREAD THE WORD
Help us to educate others on the reality of badger crime sentencing and how to Act for Badgers:
Follow us on social media
Help share the PBA30 campaign by sharing our social content and news releases.
Talk to your friends and family and share what they can do to help.
Tell your local community – write to your local paper.
FUNDRAISE FOR US
Get Active for Badgers with 30 for 30
30 badger burpees a day
3 x 10k races in 2022
Run, swim, walk or cycle 30 miles in 30 day
Get Arty for Badgers
a badger bake or craft sale
black & white dress-up day
Or just Be More Badger
a Dusk to Dawn walk or garden sleepover
a badger quiz night
PLEDGE TO LEAVE A LASTING LEGACY
Getting PBA (1992) from campaign to law was a lifetime’s work for many campaigners.
Our work never stops. Leaving a legacy gift to us in your Will is an amazing way for your love of badgers to continue after you’ve gone.
Every single pledge makes a difference, no matter how big or small your estate.
DON'T FORGET TO SEND A LETTER
Writing to the Defra Secretary of State and your MP about PBA30 is a quick, easy way to campaign for the protection of badgers.
Emails and letters have the power to influence.
Read our tips on How to Write to Your MP.
Why do we need to increase sentencing for badger crimes?
At present we have the ridiculous situation that if someone was convicted for badger baiting, they could be sentenced to up to 5 years in prison for acts against welfare to the dogs involved, but only up to 6 months for cruelty to the badgers. Under these crimes, badgers face painful, horrific deaths. The lack of strength of prosecution in the Protection of Badgers Act is out of date with the government's move to recognise animal welfare and animal sentience across more species.
These cases highlight the inequality when sentencing between cruelty to badgers, and cruelty to dogs. The short, often suspended, sentences for badger crime are no deterrent for gangs involved in badger persecution. In most cases, the cruelty to the dogs is easily recognised, but the horrific, and often deadly, pain inflicted on the badgers is not recorded as the badgers themselves are never found, instead remaining underground in their setts.
PBA30 Case study 1
In Devon in 2021, two hunt followers were fined just £200 and £400 respectively after interfering with and blocking a badger sett. The terrier men blocked up sett entrances with earth, debris, spades and nets in an attempt to make a fox that was taking refuge from the hunt, leave the sett from the only remaining unblocked exit. The men claimed that the sett was deserted, but later the same night hunt Saboteurs recorded footage of two badgers at the sett.
A further £500 to cover costs was charged to each terrier man. The low fine was considered because the men were charged with ‘recklessness’ rather than deliberate interference, as they failed to inspect the sett fully.
Although the judge said the impact of the conviction may have more of an effect on them than the fines, one of the men already had a previous caution against him that had not deterred him.
PBA30 Case Study 2
The lack of deterrent posed by the limited sentencing from the PBA to those involved in badger baiting was highlighted from a case in Wales.
In 2018 the BBC conducted an undercover investigation, where journalists joined with three men as they went out badger baiting. One of the men had a previous conviction against badger baiting from 2011 and had been banned from keeping dogs indefinitely. The men involved used a locator box to detect signals from the dog's collar as it was sent underground in the setts. As the dog barked to alert it had found a badger, the men began digging.
On the day involved in the undercover investigation, the gang spent 10 hours on this cruel, illegal sport. Combined with further evidence, they were later prosecuted under the PBA and Animal Welfare Act for between 20-26 weeks in prison. Two of the gang members had multiple convictions against them, including for conducting animal cruelty.
PBA30 Case Study 3
In 2019, thanks to a report from a member of the public, four men were caught in the act of sending a neglected terrier into a badger sett. Three of the men were convicted under the Protection of Badgers Act (1992) for digging for badgers and interfering with a badger sett and given a 10-week suspended sentence and ordered not to enter a North East county for one year. Given the nature of badger baiting, other locations are still fully accessible to the gang, and a 10-week suspended sentence is no deterrent to this criminal activity.
The men were caught using a tracking locator to find the terrier that was still underground in the sett when the police arrived. When the dog was finally retrieved it was covered in facial wounds, an ulcerated eye as well as an untreated eye infection, and was underweight. In a sickening twist, the dog was rather tragically named Brock. Under the Animal Welfare Act (2006) all four were convicted for inflicting unnecessary harm to their dog and banned from keeping dogs for five years.
Why badgers need your help
The Protection of Badgers Act received Royal Assent 30 years ago, at a time when a 6-month prison sentence for badger cruelty was a landmark win for badgers. 30 years later our PBA30 campaign aims to get sentencing in line with changes to broader animal welfare policy and laws. It’s time those who commit these crimes against badgers are given the sentences they deserve.
Every week horrific badger persecution continues to take place across the country and we need to send a message out to these people to stop – proper sentencing would be a real deterrent. That’s why we’re urging the Secretary of State to support our call for tougher and fairer sentencing to protect these iconic native animals.