Virtually all badger species have had their numbers reduced over many parts of their ranges because of human activities, and in a number of places they are locally rare and under threat. Badgers have also been killed as pests, and "pest" control operations (e.g. trapping, snareing, poisoning) aimed at other species have also taken their toll. Developments or agricultural practices are changing or destroying the habitats on which badgers depend. Many badgers are killed by traffic.
The European badger Meles meles and the American badger Taxidae taxus are both trapped and hunted over most of their ranges. The American species is taken for its fur - around 50,000 animals per year. The European badger meanwhile is taken in the course of "sport" hunting (including badger digging), as well as being hunted for its fur, meat and fat. At least 100,000 are known to be taken every year in western Europe (west of the former Soviet Union) alone.
Increasing urbanisation, road building, and the development of quarries to provide raw materials has led to the loss of many badger setts in Britain while changes of land use due to agriculture have had major impacts, especially in parts of the American badger's range. Around 50,000 European badgers are killed on the roads in Britain every year. In the UK (1998) there were estimated to be around 42,000 social groups of badgers, and just under 200,000 adult badgers. By 1997 this had risen to just over 50,000 social groups and 310,000 adult badgers. The population is now probably stable. Mortality is high, with around one-fifth of adults dying each year. Some badgers are infected with bovine tuberculosis, particularly in the south west of England. These animals are the subject of a control campaign by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. There is a continuing debate about the role of badgers infecting cattle with tuberculosis.