Slow down. Report. Save lives.
Traffic is the number one threat to badgers in the UK, outside of any Government-sanctioned cull activity. In a 1995 study, it was estimated that as many as 50,000 badgers were killed on the roads each year – equating to a fifth of the adult population. Local studies in the mid to late 1990s have estimated as much as 66% of the population were being killed on roads per year. Our friend brock consistently tops the list of most numerous victims of road traffic accidents of mammal species, and in 2019 came second only to pheasants of all UK species.
We use badger road traffic casualty (RTC) data reported to us to inform our research and campaigns, as well as providing it to local groups to help guide their work on the ground. Cardiff University has an ongoing project to monitor roadkill and the impact of traffic on wildlife, and Badger Trust supplies data to the project each month from reports submitted through our Reporting Centre to help inform their work.
The UK has almost 40m vehicles licensed to be on the road according to recent Government statistics and whilst driving patterns and types of vehicles are likely to change over time, the harsh reality is that traffic will continue to present a serious risk to the nation’s wildlife for the foreseeable future. Yet it is possible to take action to help wildlife, and through our 10-minute film below you can find out how. Mike Dilger – naturalist, broadcaster and firm friend of badgers – takes us through the three key things you can do to help. These are:
Slow down: you can give badgers a brake by ensuring your speed matches the road, and sticks within the speed limit. Be alert to wildlife, particularly on country roads, and especially around dawn and dusk. The months of March to May and September to November are particularly risky for badgers, as cubs emerge in Spring, and badgers roam further for food, and possibly mating opportunities, in Autumn. You can help spread this knowledge by advising friends and family, and talking to them about the issues when you are travelling with them.
Report badger casualties: you can report badger casualties to us using the dedicated form in our Reporting Centre. If you are able, and only if it is safe to do so in terms of your safety, traffic flow and general access, please check on the badger to confirm if it is dead, and also to see if it is a sow (female) and lactating. This would indicate that there may be cubs nearby that need help, and this information can be acted on by your local badger group – you can find your local group on our map here. We will forward this information to them on receipt, but it will get to them faster if you can report it to them directly if you suspect this is the case. If the badger is alive please attempt to contact the local group immediately for assistance. If you do not have a local group please contact a local vet.
Raise awareness: you can help raise awareness of badger road traffic casualties and save lives. Follow us on social media and share our ‘Give Badgers A Brake’ campaign information by sharing, retweeting and reposting our campaign messages. As mentioned above, simply talking to friends and family about the threats badgers face and how we can all take action to prevent unnecessary wildlife deaths on the road really does help. Badger Trust is here to be the voice for badgers, and you are part of that when you speak up to help them.
Watch our 10-minute film on the issues around badgers and roads, presented by naturalist and broadcaster Mike Dilger. Please spread the word and help share this film. Together we can work to Give Badgers A Brake.
‘Give Badgers a Brake’ film presented by Mike Dilger and with the support and help of our friends at Secret World Animal Rescue.
© Badger Trust 2017. Closed captions option available when viewing.
#1 Species killed on British roads
Badgers are nocturnal creatures of habit. Family groups living in a sett will use the same well worn paths to access foraging grounds for generations.
As a result of the ever increasing rate of development, many of the UK's roads now intertwine with these well established routes. With the badgers poor eyesight and poorly planned roads it's no wonder that a recent survey ranked badgers at the top of the list making them the most commonly killed British species on our roads.
What is mitigation?
The demand for new roads is ever increasing, and with millions of animals being killed on the roads each year it has become integral that we find strategies to incorporate the natural world into development strategies. This is where mitigation comes in.
Mitigation measures are those that aim to reduce the risk of wildlife mortality on roads. With over 40 different types of mitigation available we aim to increase working partnerships with developers, councils and consultants to identify the most effective strategies and ensure they are effectively implemented.
Spread the word on social media...
We want to make it easy for you to spread the word about the ‘Give Badgers a Brake’ campaign. Only together can we make a difference for the future of our badgers. Please feel free to use any of the following pre-made posts on social media:
Poorly planned roads kill #wildlife. Join the #campaign to give them a brake http://bit.ly/2qF21rv #GiveBadgersABrake
#Badgers are the number one species killed on our roads with 50,000 killed annually http://bit.ly/2qF21rv #GiveBadgersABrake #Stop4Brock
Be a badger champion – join our campaign to help make our roads safer for #badgers and other #wildlife
#Wildlife deaths on roads can be reduced with better planning and support from councils. Find out more http://bit.ly/2qF21rv #GiveBadgersABrake
Mitigation measures are those that aim to reduce the risk of #wildlife deaths on roads. Find out more: http://bit.ly/2qF21rv #GiveBadgersABrake
Slowing down and paying attention when driving makes the roads a safer place for both you and wildlife. http://bit.ly/2qF21rv #GiveBadgersABrake
Reporting dead #badger sightings at the side of the road lets @BadgerTrust find hot spots and petition councils. http://bit.ly/2qF21rv #GiveBadgersABrake
Badgers, roads and developments
In the last 20 years the UK has seen a considerable expansion of roads contributing to a decline in green spaces and possible disturbance or relocation of badger setts. With roads comes houses, supermarkets, schools, and a variety of urban developments inevitably eating further into our green space.
The development of new roads poses a serious risk to badger populations by fragmenting habitats, creating barriers to food and breeding. Throughout their lifetime, badgers need to be able to forage, commute, and disperse. Connectivity, between foraging grounds and other social groups, is essential in sustaining badger populations. However, developments can break this connectivity, and therefore become barriers with which the species must negotiate. The cumulative impact of these barriers results in a reduced presence of the species and can lead to local extinctions.
The Badger Trust is calling for a coordinated policy, between all agencies, to improve safeguards for wildlife on roads across the UK. We believe that efforts to highlight the risks to wildlife, and people, on roads, and greater funding to improve mitigation measures will make roads a safer place for not only badgers, but all UK wildlife.
What happens when a development is to take place?
Where a development is in its implementation, the developer must make themselves aware of protected species on the land they intend to develop. Advice can be sought from the local planning authority, badger consultant, and/or the local badger group, and a survey of the area should be undertaken. It is our recommendation that the local badger group is involved, where possible.
Where badger setts are identified on the proposed land to be developed, specialist advice should be sought and the development design should be amended to mitigate against potential conflicts with the Protection of Badgers Act, 1992, which makes it an offence to damage, destroy, or obstruct access to a badger sett, or disturb a badger when it is occupying a badger sett. Mitigation includes short and long-term strategies including protection zones or artificial setts during development, and tunnels/underpasses, fencing and signs to ensure badgers can cross roads without resulting in road traffic accidents.
It is with these steps above that planning permission will be approved or rejected. However, planning permission does not mean that conflict will still not arise. Where works are still likely to affect badgers and their setts (particularly common with road developments as these follow a direct route), a license will be needed. Where a license to interfere with a badger sett is sought, it will need to be shown that all other steps have been taken to avoid conflict with badgers and their setts.
Licenses are regularly granted to relocate badger setts due to developments. In these cases, badgers will be excluded from their setts with the use of gates fixed to the entrances. An artificial sett will be built (in most cases where a breeding sett is to be excluded) within the same territory and the original sett will be destroyed.
Where do problems arise?
Badgers and their setts are frequently affected by development. The Badger Trust receives large volumes of enquiries relating to developments throughout each year. This is mostly by concerned members of the public questioning the presence of badgers in areas to be developed. The Trust regularly sees incidences where mitigation measures are not carried out and badger setts are destroyed; inevitably killing the animals underground. It is in these cases that there is a clear lack of monitoring of the area to be developed and it is regularly claimed that there is no presence of badgers, only later to be found that a badger sett has been overlooked or missed.
The use of artificial setts doesn’t always work. It is not uncommon for excluded badgers to return to the site of the original sett and attempt to reopen it. The uptake of artificial setts is unknown and displacement occurs, which can lead to negative interactions with humans, particularly with badgers visiting gardens.
For road developments in particular, not only do problems arise in the implementation, but there are also long-term negative effects of a new road in a badgers territory. A new road that crosses over a badger path becomes a nightly danger, and can reduce lifespan and impede the exchange of genetic material.
Put simply, new developments can be disastrous for badgers. Through our Give Badgers a Brake campaign, we seek to work closer with developers, consultants, local council planning authorities, and Natural England/Natural Resources Wales on a coordinated approach to mitigating for badgers during developments. We want to make sure that we are informed of, and consulted on, new initiatives and are involved in the works of new developments to ensure the welfare and protection of badgers and their setts.