Brabant badgers to be evicted from their train sett

Head of a european badger, Meles meles
Head of a european badger, Meles meles

Rail operator ProRail has started preparations to encourage a family of badgers to leave their sett underneath the rails at Esch in Brabant so repairs can take place and rail services resumed.

Permission to evict the protected badgers was given on Wednesday night following a spat between the Netherlands Enterprise Agency RVO, which issues the permits, and ProRail about who is responsible for the time it has taken to tackle the problem. Badgers are now undermining train tracks at at least 40 places, the rail operator said.

‘We have been given permission to get the badgers out using certain measures,’ ProRail said.

The activities, which will take place during the day because badgers are nocturnal, include cutting back the grass at the site to discourage badgers and placing one-way doors in front of the entrance holes so badgers that have gone out foraging can’t get back in.

Remaining badgers found while the sett is being dug up will be sedated and cared for under the auspices of a vet and an ecologist, ProRail said. Repairs will include placing wire fencing to discourage badgers from trying to dig in again.

ProRail expects services between Den Bosch and Boxtel will resume at the end of next week.


The badgers who have made their home underneath the track in Molkwerum in Friesland, suspending rail services between Workum and Stavoren, will take longer to displace because the badgers will be given the opportunity to move, at their own pace, to a nearby artificial sett. The nearest date for the resumption of the service is April 24, ProRail said.

Badgers became almost extinct in the Netherlands in the 1980s but their number has grown after a number of young badgers were released into the wild.

There are now some 6,000 badgers in the country, which, according to badger protection organisation Das & Boom, means they are now also settling in ‘a-typical places, such as underneath roads and rail tracks.’

Spokesman Jaap Dirkmaat told broadcaster NOS the organsation had warned officials as long as 10 years ago that badgers form a risk to dykes, roads and rail tracks.

‘Water boards have listened and made sure they have standard permission to remove badger setts. There’s a zero tolerance policy for badgers where dykes are concerned but Rijkswaterstaat and ProRail haven’t got there yet,’ he said.

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