Badgers are burrowing underneath train tracks in at least 40 places

Head of a european badger, Meles meles
A European badger, Meles meles. Photo:

Badgers have been free to establish setts underneath train tracks at at least 40 places across the Netherlands and everyone involved is pointing the finger at each other for not acting sooner.

Train services between Den Bosch and Eindhoven have been cancelled until further notice because of damage caused by badgers burrowing under the tracks while  earlier this month badger activity destabilised tracks between two Frisian towns, halting services there.

ProRail, the company responsible for track maintenance, has been ignoring warnings about destructive badger activity underneath the tracks for years, badger association Das&Boom, told

‘They should have acted then and there. It’s very painful that it didn’t happen because it’s really too late now,’ chairman Jaap Dirkmaat said. The badger sett in Brabant has been known about for seven years and during that time the badgers have made many corridors and rooms, making it more difficult to get them out, Dirkmaat explained.

As the badgers continue to dig, ProRail and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency RVO, which has to give permission for the badgers to be removed, are pointing the finger at each other.

While the RVO claims ProRail should have asked for permission to move the badgers much sooner, ProRail said the RVO had been slow to issue them. ‘We asked for permission to tackle the sett in Brabant in December but have heard nothing since,’ ProRail spokesman Aldert Baas told

Whoever is to blame for the failure to act in time, it’s the badgers that will bear the brunt of the problem, Das&Boom said.

The organisation, which since last year is helping ProRail to monitor badger activity, says the best option is to encourage the badgers to leave their sett and move them to an alternative, man-made construction. Work is progressing on building a new sett for the family in Friesland and ProRail is expecting permission to move the badgers there this week.

There is no such solution in place in Noord-Brabant which means any other way of tackling the problem will put the Brabant badgers at risk.

‘We really have to talk about a structural solution,’ Das&Boom project leader Bert Hesse said. ‘ProRail knows they have to be careful when it comes to a protected animals like the badger. But they are proliferating and we need have an agreement in place to prevent problems like this. Badgers are good for diversity but a problem for travellers.’

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