Badgers and their setts are protected under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, which makes it illegal to kill, injure or take badgers or to interfere with a badger sett. Interference with a sett includes blocking tunnels or damaging the sett in any way.

Badgers live in groups of up to 14 adults. They dig out and live in a maze of underground tunnels and chambers called a sett. The main sett is occupied all year round and is a permanent home in fact some are thought to be around 100 years old. Around each main sett, there are others that are used sporadically throughout the year, often between January and March when the cubs are born. Badgers like to build their setts into sloping ground in woodlands, especially where the drainage is good and the soil is not too heavy to dig.

Badgers are rarely seen during the day, but forage for food at night. Their favourite foods are earthworms, insects, roots, fruits and berries.

Problems with Badgers

As badgers are protected species, any kind of tampering with a badger or a badger sett is illegal unless a licence has been obtained from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

DEFRA will only issue a licence for:

  • the purpose of preventing serious damage to land, crops, poultry or any other form of property, to kill or take badgers, or to interfere with a badger sett;
  • the purpose of any agricultural or forestry operation, to interfere with a badger sett;
  • the purpose of any operation (whether by virtue of the Land Drainage Act 1991 or otherwise) to maintain or improve any existing watercourse or drainage works, or to construct new works required for the drainage of any land, including works for the purpose of defence against sea water or tidal water, to interfere with a badger sett.
  • to prevent the spread of disease.

More information on this please contact DEFRA direct:

Customer Contact Unit
Eastbury House
30 - 34 Albert Embankment


Telephone: 08459 33 55 77

Fax: 020 7238 2188