Guidance

Badgers, beavers, otters and pine martens: how to trap humanely

Trappers of certain species of mammal must use traps that meet international humaneness standards.

You must use a trap that meets the humaneness standards of the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS) to trap the following species of mammal:

  • badger
  • beaver
  • otter
  • pine marten

You also need a licence from Natural England to trap any of these species.

The trap must be suitable for use in England and be either:

  • a certified make and model
  • an approved design

You can also apply for a licence to use an uncertified trap which you believe is suitable for the humane trapping of the target species. If you use an uncertified trap you must assess the welfare of every animal you trap.

Certified traps

The following live capture traps are certified and are suitable for use in England:

Badger

  • Albi Traps ALBI 017M large mammal trap
  • Animal and Plant Health Agency badger cage trap
  • Welsh Government badger cage trap

Beaver

  • Derek Gow Bavarian type beaver trap
  • Comstock beaver trap
  • Breathe Easy live beaver trap
  • EZee Set live catch beaver trap
  • Hancock live beaver trap
  • Koro live beaver trap

Pine marten

  • Tomahawk live traps model 205
  • Tomahawk live traps model 206NC

To get a list of traps certified in other countries for humane trapping contact the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The list includes links to the certifying authorities’ best practice guidance.

Uncertified traps

You can apply for a licence to use an uncertified trap which is suitable for the humane trapping of the target species.

A condition of the licence is that a suitably qualified person must assess the welfare of the trapped animal with each use of the trap.

A suitably qualified person is someone with the knowledge and experience to look for, recognise and assess the AIHTS indicators of poor welfare.

They’ll need to:

  • assess if the trapped animal shows any of the AIHTS indicators of poor welfare
  • decide if the trap caused these
  • send a report of the assessment to Natural England

The AIHTS lists 2 behaviours and 14 injuries that indicate poor welfare in trapped animals.

The 2 behaviour indicators are:

  • self-biting leading to severe injury
  • excessive immobility and unresponsiveness

The 14 injury indicators are:

  • fracture
  • joint dislocation close to the carpus (wrist) or tarsus (ankle) bones
  • severed tendon or ligament
  • major periosteal (bone covering membrane) abrasion
  • severe external haemorrhage (bleeding) or haemorrhage into an internal cavity
  • major skeletal muscle degeneration
  • restriction in blood supply to a limb
  • fracture of a permanent tooth exposing pulp cavity
  • eye damage including corneal laceration
  • spinal cord injury
  • severe internal organ damage
  • myocardial (heart muscle) degeneration
  • amputation
  • death

What to do if the animal is fit for release

If the trapped animal is fit for release, the person making the assessment (the assessor) must decide if the trap has caused any injuries. They must report these to Natural England using the report form sent out with the licence.

What to do if the animal is not fit for release

If the assessor believes the animal is not fit for release due to any of the AIHTS indicators of poor welfare, they must take further action.

A qualified person (such as a vet) must anaesthetise or euthanise the animal for further medical assessment and, if appropriate, treatment.

If they need to euthanise an animal protected from killing, they must be able to rely on a suitable ‘mercy killing’ legal defence.

The assessor must decide if the trap caused the injuries and report these to Natural England using the report form.

Apply for a licence

You need to use the application form relevant to the species and activity:

Published 5 April 2019