There have been some recent concerns raised around the welfare of cage trapped badgers during the hot weather.

The Bovine TB Programme confirm Natural England’s guidance on this issue and their recent advice to those trapping badgers for vaccination and culling to ensure animal welfare is protected during the continued hot weather. 

Natural England has published guidance that provides clear direction to licensed operators carrying out cage-trapping and dispatch of badgers to prevent the spread of bovine TB in cattle.   The guidance ensures that a high level of humaneness is maintained in licensed badger control, including reducing the risks of trapped badgers suffering exposure due to severe weather (extremes of hot or cold). 

In particular sections 4 and 6 of NE’s guidance make provision for mitigating the risk of trapped badgers suffering from exposure to extremes of temperature and, to this end, the guidance sets out that the positioning of cage-traps must “take advantage of natural cover / shelter from wind and rain or from over-heating from the sun”. Section 10 of the guidance stipulates that any badgers caught must be checked and dealt with as soon as practicable after dawn the following day, and in any event, before 12 noon.  Traps that are most at risk of exposure to the elements should be checked first.  All contractors are trained to place cages in areas of cover to account for inclement weather (hot or cold). 

Natural England keeps the guidance and its implementation under review during the course of licensed operations.  In light of the recent hot weather Natural England has been in contact with both supplementary badger control companies and with groups carrying out vaccination to remind them that trapping should cease at sites where it is not possible to mitigate against the risk that trapped badgers could suffer extreme exposure to inclement weather conditions – taking account of high temperature and direct sun in combination. NE has also advised these groups that trapped badgers should be culled or vaccinated by 8am or within 3 hours of dawn (as opposed to 12 noon as stated in the guidance) given the hot weather.  Furthermore, Natural England has conducted compliance monitoring visits in both supplementary badger control areas and is content that badger welfare has been fully considered where cage-trapping has been used.

If you have any questions on the implementation of this guidance please contact btbengage@defra.gsi.gov.uk.