Licence / guidelines summary

With various people confused as to what the guidelines of the cull say and what the licence conditions state we thought we would do a very basic summary of what we feel are the main points. Please feel free to ask us more questions or check out our ‘Publications, Documents and Links‘ page…

The licence specifies the start date of the cull and the minimum and maximum numbers of badgers that may be killed in the stated year. There is no mention of an end date although there is a long area of redacted (blanked out) text which may include such information.

However, the licence conditions state that “no less than the specified minimum” must be killed during the cull period and state that the cull will continue until the specified maximum number has been reached or Natural England tells contractors to stop (for example if culling has gone on until the end of the open season).

The open season the dates between which badgers can be killed under licence. These are not the start and end dates of the culling period.

Caging:

– traps that are set to catch badgers must be checked as soon as possible after dawn and definitely no later than 12noon

– no caging is allowed in the closed season (between December 1st and May 31st)

– caging should be suspended in very bad weather

– cages should not be placed on spoil heaps or where they are blocking the entrances to setts but there is no minimum distance that they must be placed away from setts

– cages should be cleaned before moving to a new site

– if there’s a risk of interference from a third party shooters may have to abandon shooting any cages badgers and release them unharmed

– peanuts may initially be thrown into the entrances of setts to entice the badgers to look for more of them

Shooting:

– no badgers must be shot within 25metres of a sett (any bait points that badgers are shot at must be 30metres from the sett) and must also be far enough away from dense cover in case wounded badgers try to run for cover*

*if a badger is thought to have taken refuge in a sett no digging / sending in of dogs is allowed

– shooters must be certain of a safe backdrop in case of a missed bullet or if the bullet passes through the badger or ricochets

– ‘free-shooting’ can be done with a rifle or a shotgun (there are specifics with regards to what firearms may be used and what types of ammunition)

– a minimum of 2 people (shooter and buddy) must be involved in night shooting for humaneness and health and safety reasons

– spotlights can be used to search over an area or bait points at a maximum of 70 metres

– the aim must be to kill with the first shot but shooter must be in a position to take a following shot (safely) if necessary
– shots must never be taken from a moving vehicle

– “operators must never feel rushed into taking a shot. The key consideration is for a safe, accurate and humane shot”

June 1st – January 31st is ‘open season’ for shooting

General

– badger bodies should be bagged up at the site of the shooting (unless impractical)

– wear disposable gloves

– arrive at farms in a clean vehicle

– no head / neck shots permitted

– once death is confirmed, firearms should be unloaded and made safe

Contractors “must comply” with the relevant Defra / Natural England best practice guidelines… failure to comply with terms and conditions of licence could mean that an offence under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 is committed and may result in licences being revoked and / or future licences being refused

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