Badgers: Fox hunting's other victim

In the life of the badger there are only a few months when culling cannot take place, where they are supposed to be left to live in peace.

However, with development uprooting them from their homes, illegal persecution, and getting killed on roads (around 50,000 deaths a year), it’s a hard life for a badger and there is certainly no respite.

From 1 June to the end of the hunting season in March/April badgers are under threat from all sides. Badger culling, permitted by the government, is allowed from 1 June to 31 January with an intensive six-week culling period, usually in the summer.

Blocked badger setts are reported all year round but when cub hunting begins in August and the fox hunting season begins in November, incidents seem to rise.

Between  2023 and April 2024, we have had 24 records of badger baiting and 13 badger sett issues relating to hunts. This is likely just the tip of the iceberg.

Why do fox hunts block badger setts?

When hunts are chasing a fox with a pack of hounds and the fox goes to ground in a badger sett it spoils their fun and is of great annoyance to those who want to see the fox brutally killed by hounds. During the hunting season individuals, often terrier men, will be out early in the morning prior to a hunt meet, blocking up badger setts to ensure their hunting day won’t be ruined.

It is illegal to dig down into a badger sett to retrieve a fox but, as we saw on ITV, “digging out” continues today. The disgusting, disturbing footage of a fox being dug out and thrown to waiting hounds by the Avon Vale hunt was seen by us all.

When the public or the police aren’t watching, this is the reality of hunting with hounds. This goes on behind our backs and they think they can get away with it. We need a proper ban. If hunts were really following a trail, why would they even need terrier men?

How many badgers have starved or suffocated in blocked setts across the country? It fills me with dread.

Peak badger sett blocking happens between November and May during the main fox hunting season, with the Badger Trust reporting the biggest rise happening in February. Some counties will have several hunts in the area that could be hunting on the same or different days so many badger setts will be at risk.

National parks should ban hunting on their land

Our national parks should be a safe space for wildlife and people, these beautiful surroundings must be preserved.

The national parks’ vision is to be “national beacons for a sustainable future where nature and people flourish”, yet hunting with hounds still happens on park land.

Whether you are a fox, badger, stag or hare you are not safe.

The national park authorities must do all that they can, including working with landowners within their boundaries, to ban hunting including trail hunting on their land.

What you can do

Report blocked setts and badger crime

If you are out in the countryside and witness anybody attempting to block a badger sett please dial 999 if the crime is in progress.  On discovering a blocked badger sett call 101 and report to the Badger Trust.

You can also report any suspected crime to our Animal Crimewatch. This is a confidential hotline where you can report cruelty to animals in the name of sport by telephone, email or using the online form.

Email the national parks and ask them to ban hunting on their land. Three National Parks – Dartmoor, Exmoor, and Peak District – still don’t believe that trail hunting is a smokescreen for illegal hunting.

More information

The League’s Head of Intelligence is a member of the Badger Persecution Priority Delivery Group set up by the National Wildlife Crime Unit and meets quarterly.

Download our badger leaflet

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