Is it legal to own a badger in the UK?

Badger. Photo in public domain.

According to Chris Packham, it has been illegal to keep badgers as pets since the 1973 Badgers Act, except for taking in sick animals for rehabilitation and then releasing them back into the wild.

On my reckoning (and I could be wrong) the Badgers Act 1973 clashes with the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 when read in conjunction with The Dangerous Wild Animals Act (Modification) (No.2) Order 2007.

The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 tells us that the Eurasian badger is an exception to the list of dangerous animals in the schedule of dangerous animals included in the modification order listed above. And therefore, these two pieces of legislation tell us that you can keep a badger as a pet (or ‘own’ a badger) provided it is a Eurasian badger. This flies in the face, very positively, of the Badgers Act 1973.

Therefore, I’m confused. Can somebody enlighten me by leaving a comment? I don’t know what the answer is but I do know that (1) it would pay to telephone the local authority and ask them and (2) a badger is far better left alone to live their life in the wild. I am convinced that your local authority would tell you that it is illegal to own a badger in the UK. But if they say that I would like you to ask them how they explain the apparent anomaly that I have picked out above.

Common sense dictates that as badgers are wild animals they cannot easily be regarded as pets like a cat or dog. I’m told that 6% of wild badgers have TB.

Chris Packham and tame badger
Chris Packham and tame badger.Photo: The Guardian newspaper

Chris Packham, the well-known wildlife conservationist and television presenter, said that he had a badger as a pet when he was a child. He says that badgers do not make good pets. When he was a child, he had some orphaned badgers. He remembers being with them “with fondness”. His parents didn’t like it because they were destructive. He smuggled one into his bedroom where he put the animal into his Subbuteo box where it destroyed various characters of the Manchester City team.

Badgers are very strong and powerful diggers. Packham says firmly that a “badger’s place is in the wild, where it plays an important role as a small predator and omnivore”.

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