To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department has taken to tackle the persecution of badgers since this was set as one of the wildlife crime priorities for 2009-10; and what plans he has to increase the level of protection for badgers.
In addition to the general protection afforded to wildlife, badgers are specifically protected under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Badgers and their setts are fully protected. I have no plans to alter this protection.
DEFRA, together with the Home Office, is the main source of funding for the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU). Progress on action to tackle the badger persecution wildlife crime priority is set out in the NWCU's tactical assessment (February 2010). The overall objective is to improve and increase the recording of incidents, crimes and intelligence for badger persecution; and improve the investigation process and increase awareness of badger persecution across the UK. Several meetings of the priority delivery group have taken place and prevention, intelligence and enforcement work taking place. Details of the specific actions being taken cannot be disclosed as they relate to restricted enforcement and intelligence information.