How long can badgers be left alive in cage traps?

In May 2021, Defra revised its guidelines for Cage Trapping & Shooting Badgers under Licence. In the past, licenced cull operatives had to kill badgers caught in traps by mid-day. Now there’s less time allowed.

Badgers in traps have to be killed by:

  • 9.30am – June, July & August
  • 10.30am – September
  • 11.30am – October & November

So, any incidents of live badgers found in cages outside these times must be reported to the police with documentary evidence (photo & location via What3Words) and your local badger group. Serious breaches of the Best Practice Guidelines may result in cull operatives either losing their licence or being dismissed by the cull company.

Supplementary culling is now taking place in supposedly 21 areas from 1st June 2021 to end of January 2022, though nothing is confirmed since the licences are not yet in the public domain. However, an Opportunity to Comment (OTC) on new applications for seven areas by Natural England received seven responses, all of which were against licencing supplementary culling in new areas.

Guidelines for free-shooting badgers was also released in May 2021 and badgers in supplementary cull zones can be free-shot until end of January 2022. So whatever the government briefs, there’s no end to intensive badger culling in sight. As always, badgers need friends on the ground to be informed, aware and proactive because all sett disturbance is still illegal and must be reported to the relevant police force in your county.

So stay vigilant when you’re out walking in the countryside and if you want to help badgers and meet like-minded friends, you can find a local group near you.

140,830 badgers killed by culling since 2013


Later than usual, the Government has released the total number of badgers killed in 2020’s badger cull. However, in a further 10 areas, cull operatives in supplementary cull zones are killing badgers until 31 January 2021, so these figures won’t be released until late March 2021.

Year on year, as the badger cull expands, thousands more badgers are killed. This year, so far, 38,642 bringing the total to a staggering, inconceivable 140,830 badgers slaughtered since the culls began in 2013.

More details of 2020’s badger cull operations here:

  • Annex A1 shows that no-one can estimate the number of badgers from sett data alone.
  • Annex A2 reveals that many of the zones were allowed to kill badgers far beyond the original target of 42 days.
  • Annex B contains information on the so-called ‘humaneness’ of the cull.

To help save badgers in your area and beyond, please find your local badger campaign group here and contact them now!

Massive expansion of badger cull confirmed

On 7 September, the Government finally published the licences that confirmed a massive expansion of badger killing across the country.  Although the Government states that it intends to ‘phase out intensive badger culling in the next few years’, it is obviously comfortable with culling thousands more badgers before that point.

Supplementary culling licences  that extend the badger killing season to eight months a year have also been expanded and were issued in May to attempt eradication of a native species at a time when extinction of species across the world is increasing at a record rate is beyond comprehension.

The UK Government has an appalling record at conserving its own wildlife habitats and biodiversity yet is well known for telling other countries what to do to conserve their species. The heartland of the European badger is in England yet this Government is willing to sacrifice the species on the altar of political expediency.

Our badgers need you more than ever and you can help them to save them. Take the first step by looking at the big list of groups helping to save badgers in their various counties and get in touch now!

You can also contact us here at Badger Action Network for more information.

Leaked documents reveal shocking plans for badger cull extension

Remember in March 2020, the Government briefed journalists that intensive badger culling would be phased out and replaced with badger vaccination? It signalled a ‘seismic shift’ in the Government’s thinking and signalled an end to the badger cull. The news was picked up by every major media outlet in the country and clearly demonstrates the public interest in stopping the badger cull. But the Government lied. Leaked documents from Natural England shows eleven more licences to cull badgers will be issued this year and the death toll this year alone could be a total of 64,657 badgers.

Shockingly, the cull is extending into new counties including Derbyshire, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, Leicestershire and Lincolnshire. So, if you want to help badgers in your local area (or elsewhere) find your group here or, if you need extra help, contact us for more information.

Help the badgers in 2020

In 2019-2020, the badger cull took place over a total of 43 zones. A total of 35,034 badgers were killed with the largest percentage free-shot. The British Veterinary Association has condemned the method as inhumane. A comprehensive analysis of the data with links to the original Government documents can be found here.

Killing in supplementary cull zones is expected to start on 1st June 2020. On 15 May 2020, Natural England issued licences for the original supplementary cull zones of West Somerset, West Gloucestershire and Dorset plus, for the first time, an area within Herefordshire and new areas within Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Gloucestershire.

Specific information with cull targets can be found here and information on what supplementary culling is can be found here.

It is expected that licences for the 33 remaining areas plus new areas will be issued in mid-August, so DON’T DELAY!

Find your local group or contact Badger Action Network to see how you can help the badgers this year.

Government U-turn on badger cull policy?

As we wait for the numbers of badgers that were killed courtesy of the Government’s badger cull policy during 2019/20, the Government dropped a bombshell into the mix. A long awaited response to the Godfray report included an unexpected pledge that intensive badger culling would be ‘phased’ out in favour of large scale, industry-led badger vaccination. Mainstream media briefly abandoned the coronavirus stories to carry extensive stories on the Government’s new approach with some campaigners calling it a ‘U-turn’. What is certain is that the Government’s strategy is far more focused on cattle measures than before with much less mention of badgers.

For now, it looks as if supplementary culling will be replaced with badger vaccination whilst it may be possible that new areas will not be licenced this year. However a word of caution: activists should not relax though for will the Government actually follow through these words with action? So, as always, make this the year to join your local group, if you’ve not already done so. Details here.

Over 108,000 badgers killed

On 19 January 2020, the Sunday Times reported that it’s expected that ministers will soon announce the number of badgers killed during 2019. The release of the figures is later than usual and information from the Times reports an estimate of 40,000 or so badgers will have been killed.

This means that an unbelievable total of over 108,000 badgers will have been been killed during seven years of culling and the increase in 2019/20 represents an approximate 20% from 2018/19. And it is set to rise since the figures are unlikely to include the badgers killed in the supplementary cull zones of West Somerset, West Gloucestershire plus an area of Dorset. Licences for free shooting badgers here now continue until 31 January 2020.

Whatever numbers the Government announces, it will be an under-estimate. All around the country, those working hard to protect badgers have found some badgers that have been shot and killed but not picked up by cull operatives. These are usually recorded as ‘shot and missed’. Not only that but there are well-grounded fears that many badgers are killed illegally under the guise of the official cull.

One other observation. If the number for 2019/20 is 40,000 or so, it will be a dramatic reduction from the total of the maximum number of badgers targeted for 2019/20, which was 64,400.

Finally, when the figures are released we will probably find out that most of the badgers will have been free-shot, a method condemned by the British Veterinary Association as inhumane but which is cheap and so is on the increase.

Somerset Against the Badger Cull created a short video dramatic reconstructing the shooting of one badger as documented by a monitor appointed by the Government. You can find it here:

Government bTB policy on badger culling

The Government bTB policy on badger culling is as follows:

Four years of a SIX WEEK badger cull with letters of authorisation issued every year. Area size is known and the minimum and maximum number of badgers that can be shot in that area. However the actual area and boundaries with details of non-participating and participating land within those areas is not known.

After four years of the six weeks cull, SUPPLEMENTARY CULLING is licenced that lasts for EIGHT MONTHS a year for free-shooting and SIX MONTHS a year for cage trapping. Essentially, a repeal of the Protection of Badgers Act without a vote in Parliament, this means that the target number of badgers can be killed either by free shooting by licensed cull operatives from 1 June 2018 to 31 January 2019 or by cage-trapping & shooting by licensed cull operatives between 1 June 2018 – 30 November 2018.

Only licenced cull operatives can legally kill badgers both during the six week badger cull and the supplementary culling.  Anyone without such a licence and killing badgers is acting illegally. SETTS ARE STILL PROTECTED during any cull operations so ANY disturbance of a sett is illegal throughout the year.

Letters of authorisation for three areas are now under supplementary culling for 2019/20 were issued on 20 June 2019.

West Gloucestershire (Area 1) and West Somerset (Area 2) are in their third year whilst Dorset Area 3 is in its first year. Supplementary culling will last for FIVE YEARS minimum and is designed to keep badger populations at a very low level. It risks driving local populations to extinction.

After five years of supplementary culling, a decision will be made by the Government whether to continue culling or not

Badger protection groups in all zones monitor setts all year round and it’s never too late to join in. If you really care about badgers, get in touch with your local group and get started now.

A shocking 64,400 badgers could be killed this year

On 11 September 2019, Defra published the Letters of Authorisation for 11 new areas and, at the same time, released the minimum and maximum target figures for zones already subject to culling.

There are now FORTY zones within England that can kill badgers under licence for six weeks.

In addition, on 20 June, letters of authorisation were issued for further supplementary culling in THREE areas in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Dorset. More on what supplementary culling means can be found here.

There is NO evidence that this slaughter is helping to reduce bovine TB incidents within cattle herds. In fact, Government figures show that in West Gloucestershire after SIX years of culling badgers, the rate of incidents of bovine TB has increased by 130%. See article here.

Remember that 67,259 badgers have been killed in the Government’s badger cull policy since 2013. It is, without doubt, a massacre of a much-loved native species for no good reason at all. So please get in touch with your local group here to find out how you can help.

Government kills 66,985 badgers in disastrous culls

66985 badgers killed

On 18 December, the Government announced the results of 2018’s badger cull. Sadly, the 2018 total is 32,601 and set to rise with supplementary culling by free-shooting still ongoing in the two original zones of West Somerset and Gloucestershire (see more on supplementary culling here).

At this point, the total number of badgers killed since this badger cull policy was implemented in 2013 is a shocking 66,985.

The Government published more documents to try and justify their badger cull policy.

Meanwhile, the press summarised the results and highlighted the defects in the Government position:

Record 32,000 badgers shot in annual cull | Environment | The Guardian

More than 30,000 badgers killed over autumn in largest cull ever, figures show | The Independent

In October, a group of experts undermined Government claims that the badger cull has been effective in reducing incidents of bovine TB in cull zones:

Minister’s claim that badger cull cuts cattle TB is attacked by experts | Environment | The Guardian

This was particularly important as these claims are used by Government and the farming industry to underpin the expansion of the badger cull.

In November, the Godfray report commissioned by the Government was highly critical of both the farming industry and Government ministers. It revealed that simple measures such as secure fencing to prevent TB transmission aren’t implemented and that this, together with 2 million movements of cattle every year and an ineffective cattle testing regime, is “severely hampering disease control measures“.

With the farming industry still blaming badgers rather than putting their own house in order, badgers all over the country need your help.

Make 2019 the year that you stand up for your local badgers!

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