HC Deb 17 June 2004 vol 422 cc1097-8W
Mr. Paterson

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) in what circumstances shooting carried out under licence or other authority is a permitted means of killing badgers; [158500]

(2) pursuant to the Answer of 28 January 2004, Official Report, column 381W, on badgers, what methods other than shooting are available for the culling of badgers. [159154]

Mr. Bradshaw

Where killing is carried out under a licence issued by Defra, the techniqueemployed will depend on the particular circumstances of the individual case, but will normally involve cage trapping and humane dispatch by shooting.

All wild animals are protected by Section 11(1) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 against the use of self locking snares, bows, crossbows, or any explosive other than ammunition for a firearm for the purpose of killing or taking.

Schedule 6 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 details a list of species, including badgers, which are protected from further methods of killing or taking. Prohibited methods are detailed in Section 11(2) of the 1981 Act, and are any trap, net or snare, electrical devices, poisons, stupefying bait, automatic or semiautomatic weapon, any illuminating or sighting device for night shooting, any dazzling device, any gas or smoke, decoys, sound recording or, in immediate pursuit, mechanically propelled vehicles.

It is an offence if any person uses a prohibited method against a Schedule 6 species without obtaining a licence from Defra. On conviction the maximum summary fine and sentence is a £5,000 fine and/or six-month custodial sentence.

Section 2(1) of the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 makes it an offence to use in the course of killing or taking a badger any badger tongs or any firearms other than a smooth-bore weapon of nom less than 20 bore or a rifle using ammunition having a muzzle energy of not less than 160 foot-pounds and a bullet weighing not less than 38 grains, or cruelly ill-treat any badger.

The latter would make it an offence to mis-use a permitted or authorised method of killing or taking a badger, in a way which would be cruel to the badger concerned.

It is also an offence, except as permitted by the 1992 Act, to dig for a badger.

Further details of the provisions of the Protection of badgers act can be found in my previous response to the hon. Member's earlier question answered on 20 January 2004, Official Report, column 1187W.

On conviction, a person guilty of committing an offence under the 1992 Act is liable to a maximum summary fine of £5,000 fine and/or a six-month custodial sentence.