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Facts about Badger Baiting

Badger baiting involves torturing badgers until death and is a thriving ‘blood-sport’ across the UK.  Both the badgers and dogs suffer inconceivably painful injuries. 


Small terrier-type dogs are sent down setts to locate badgers and hold them at bay whilst baiters dig down.  Once exposed, the badgers are dragged from their setts and either baited there and then by a pack of savagely-trained dogs, or they are sold to underground baiting rings, earning someone in excess of £500.  

Lamping for badgers is another favoured pastime, with perpetrators choosing to stalk foraging badgers late at night before unleashing their dogs in terrifying and gruesome combat. 

One way or another, the badgers always die.  In addition to their horrific injuries from being viciously attacked by dogs, they are also often deliberately wounded by the baiters in order to guarantee a longer fight by breaking their jaw, teeth or even a foot.   

If the dogs survive, rather than receiving veterinary treatment for their open gashes, ripped ears and lips, and any other unimaginable injuries, they are stitched up by their owners without pain relief or anaesthetic; or they are killed. 

  • Badger baiting was first made illegal in 1835 under the Cruelty to Animals Act. 
  • Badgers have since been granted further protection by the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. 
  • Badger persecution has been classified as a priority for the past nine years by the National Wildlife Crime Unit. 

The chart below shows the number of reports of badger related incidents received by the Badger Persecution Priority Delivery Group in 2017.  Reports were sent by animal welfare groups and law enforcement agencies. 

Sett interference and baiting/fighting account for 59% of all reports in 2017.  In relation to sett interference the top four were:

  1. Blocking: related to Hunts - 28%
  2. Blocking: reason or type of offender not established – 17.9%
  3. Development projects – 15.1% 
  4. Setts Dug – 14.9 %

In 2016 there was a total of 612 reports of badger incidents linked to crime, compared to 740 in 2017.

This represents an increase of 21 % which is believed to be due to better reporting rather than an increase in crime. 

Again, sett interference and baiting/fighting remained the top areas of illegal persecution in 2017.  

Wildlife and Countryside Link, of which we are a member, have published Wildlife Crime Reports for 2016 and 2017, both of which we contributed to.  We are currently working on the 2018 version, which will be published in 2019.  

In the absence of consistent data from the government on wildlife crime, the reports publish data received by wildlife and conservation NGOs of crimes against wild animals and birds. The aim is to highlight wildlife crime in England and Wales, and the conservation impact it has.