Charity calls for action now to alert motorists and help save badgers and other wildlife from accidents on Britain’s roads
In response to a Badger Trust Freedom of Information request, the Department for Transport has admitted that no small wild animal warning road signs have been issued since they were introduced in 2019.
Badger Trust’s ‘Give Badgers a Brake’ road awareness campaign aims to reduce thousands of badgers killed in road accidents each year. Motorists are encouraged to slow down, report badger casualties, and save badger lives. In spring this is particularly important if female badgers with newborn cubs are killed as they roam further for food.
Supported by Chris Packham and the AA, Badger Trust called for more road signs and wrote to the government to find out how more could be put up. The shocking reply was that no signs have ever been issued. The reason given by the Department for Transport (DfT) is that no application “could provide evidence that locations are accident and wildlife hotspots.”
Peter Hambly, Executive Director of Badger Trust commented:
‘Anyone who drives on rural roads will know lots of places where badgers are commonly hit. That’s because these iconic mammals follow the same ancestral paths that have been used for hundreds of years. Roads built across these ancient paths lead to so many tragic accidents. It’s terrible for badgers and distressing for motorists that so many are hit.
These wildlife warning signs were introduced to alert drivers to slow down and look out for wildlife, but none have been issued.
We will be working with local badger groups, university researchers, and local authorities to help address this through providing more data, but surely the DfT must start authorising these signs to help badgers and motorists alike.’
Jack Cousens, the AA’s Head of Roads Policy commented on the Give Badgers a Break Campaign:
‘We support the need for more road signs to warn drivers that wildlife might be on the roads in certain areas. Other than the distress that comes with hitting and usually killing such a beautiful and iconic symbol of British wildlife, there are road safety concerns with drivers making sudden evasive manoeuvres and the collision damage to vehicles.
‘Wildlife road signs are placed where there is clear evidence of a road danger. They should trigger driver awareness where there is a particular risk of collision.’
Hambly added: ‘Having more warning signs to alert drivers to slow down for Great British wildlife would help reduce accidents and the especially high death toll of badgers on the roads.
‘Up to 50,000 badgers are killed each year and many more cubs are affected when they are orphaned as a result. We need to make the roads safer for everyone.’
The campaign has the support of nature conservationist Chris Packham, who moved many people with his response to a badger killed in his local area.