Sett up: rail network wants artificial home for badgers undermining tracks

Head of a european badger, Meles meles
Photo: Depositphotos

Badgers in the small Southwest Friesland town of Molkwerum have caused far-reaching rumblings due to their digging.

After fixing the subsiding track several times, rail network manager ProRail has applied for permission to evict the badgers and tempt them into an artificial sett nearby.

‘They are natural diggers, who love to dig in land that lies a little higher, whether that’s in dykes or natural hills,’ ProRail spokesman Aldert Baas told Dutch News. ‘Friesland is as flat as a pancake: the only thing that’s raised is the railway embankment, which is why it’s appealing for them to dig there.’

‘We have applied for permission for our approach to alter the living conditions of these protected animals, offer them a serious alternative and keep the track safe.’

There are 40 locations in the Netherlands where the railway track is potentially compromised by eager badgers, and after monitoring these, ProRail has come up with a plan to tempt the protected species elsewhere.

It has applied for permission from the enterprise agency Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland to construct a fence around the railway in Molkwerum to stop badgers encroaching above and below ground, while leaving a hole for them to escape.

The aim is to build a tunnel under the track for the badgers and an artificial sett for them to move into, reports Omrop Fryslân.

ProRail expects a decision in the short term and wants to begin the move in December, before the planting season for next year.

In the meantime, train drivers are instructed to slow down at the location. ‘This is a difficult problem to solve,’ flora and fauna expert at ProRail Michel van den Bogaert told Omrop Fryslân. ‘So we are sticking a finger in the sand.’

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