The law protects badgers, including their setts.
You may be able to get a licence from us or the Welsh Government depending on the activities you want to undertake.
You can obtain a licence for certain activities, to avoid committing offences.
You may need to employ an ecologist to help you with this work.
Badgers and the law
It is against the law to:
- kill, injure, or take badgers
- attempt to kill, injure, or take badgers
- possess live or dead badgers, or parts of them
- cruelly ill-treat a badger
- damage or destroy a badger sett or any part of it
- obstruct access to, or any entrance of, a badger sett
- cause a dog to enter a badger sett
- disturb a badger while it’s occupying a sett
- sell or offer for sale a live badger
- mark and ring badgers
If found guilty of committing any of the above offences, you could be subject to an unlimited fine and imprisonment of up to six months.
When you need a badger licence
You will need to get a licence for any activities that affect badgers. You can apply for a licence from NRW to:
- kill or take badgers or interfere with badger setts for conservation, scientific or educational purposes
- possess live or dead badgers, or parts of them
- take badgers to ring or mark them or attach a ring tag or other marking device
- carry out any development work that would interfere with a badger sett (see note below regarding definition of development)
- preserve or archaeological investigate a monument that would interfere with a sett
- investigate if an offence has been committed
- gather evidence for a court trial
- control foxes to protect released game and wildlife
You can apply to WG for a licence to:
- interfere with badger setts for any agricultural or forestry operation
- interfere with badger setts for any operation to maintain or improve any existing watercourses or drainage works
- interfere with badger setts for the construction of new works for the drainage of land, including works of defence against seawater or tidal water
- kill or take badgers or interfere with their setts for preventing the spread of disease
- kill or take badgers or interfering with their setts for preventing serious damage to land, crops, or poultry or any other form of property
- controlling foxes to protect penned game and to protect livestock
If works need to be carried out to prevent serious damage to land or any other form of property, WG may license those works. WG Wildlife Advisers may also visit and provide on-site advice. Should you require further information then please contact NRW or WG who will be able to advise whether a licence should be obtained.
What is meant by development?
Section 55 (1) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (“the 1990 Act”) defines ‘development’ as:
“...the carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land, or the making of any material change in the use of any buildings or other land.”
Works that do not constitute development under the Town and Country Planning Act
Under the 1990 Act, various operations are excluded from the definition of development. These include
- the carrying out on land within the boundaries of a road by a highway authority of any works required for the maintenance or improvement of the road but... not including any works which may have significant adverse effects on the environment;
- a local authority or statutory undertakers carrying out any works for the purpose of inspecting, repairing or renewing any sewers, mains, pipes, cables or other apparatus, including the breaking open of any street or other land for that purpose;
- the demolition of any description of building specified in a direction given by the Welsh Ministers to local planning authorities generally or to a particular local planning authority.
Please note that this list is not exhaustive.
You may be able to time works to avoid sensitive periods. The badger ‘closed season’ is when badgers are pregnant or nursing cubs, this is between the months of December to the end of June. You will need to allow time to plan for this in your work schedule.
NRW would normally issue licences to disturb badgers or damage or destroy setts between the 1 July and the 30 November in any year.
Guidance for developers
We offer a basic guide for developers. You should not use this guide as a substitute for professional advice. Our guidance for developers can help you reduce the effect your work has on any badgers and their setts within your development.
Apply for a licence
Report your actions under a licence
You must report your actions four weeks after your licence has expired.
It is a condition of your licence that you provide us with a report showing what work you have carried out. If you have carried out no work, you must still complete the form and send it to us. You must return the form to us within 4 weeks after the licence expiry date.
Amend your licence
You can ask for amendments to your licence using the relevant forms.
You can contact us for help at any time before or during your licence application.