|RSPB Spotlight on Badgers book
Lowen explores the lives of badgers and their communal
living, feeding habits and threats to their conservation. Click
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In March 1986 the Tonbridge to Hastings line was
electrified, using the live-third-rail system. Within one month, 100
badgers were dead.
Electrocution of badgers on the railways remains a
serious problem. The numbers of badgers killed can be reduced by having
gaps in the electrified rail, but these need to be positioned at well-used
To find out where these crossing points are, railway
companies should arrange for a detailed badger survey to be done.
Realistically, track-side engineering staff will not normally be familiar
enough with the habits of badgers to do this properly.
Short sections of the third-rail can be left as
non-electrified. However, as the non-electrified sections of rail can be a
maximum of three metres long, particular care needs to be taken where the
badgers stagger their crossing points, and non-electrified rails will need
to be staggered accordingly. Of course, installing special sections of
rail has cost implications, so these are an important factor too. In any
event, these safe sections of rail can't be too close together (otherwise
there may be power-supply issues for the trains).
Because badgers may stray away from safe areas, the
Badger Consultant should also be asked to install or supervise the
installation of suitable badger-resistant fencing on both sides of the
railway lines. As well as trying to prevent the badgers getting onto
unsafe sections of track, these may also be used to try a limit the actual
number of crossing points. However, having too few crossing points is
likely to lead to territorial restrictions for the badgers; with an
increased risk of conflict between clans; as well as serious efforts to
undermine new fences or walls.
In some cases, fencing can be used in conjunction with
badger "gates". These can be two-way or one-way. One-way gates
would be useful in that they can often prevent badgers getting onto the
track, but can allow them a theoretical escape route (if they know to use
it). As always, badgers gates have cost implications; and have a
maintenance overhead (as some-one needs to check that they are still
working). Whilst a Badger
Consultant or a
Badger Group will need to be involved with the
installation of the fencing, a suitably trained person should be able to
check the condition of the fencing and any badger gates at a later date.
As with the tunnels under new roads, railway crossing
points can help to substantially reduce badger mortality. They do require
a lot of work on the part of the badger consultant or any Badger Group or Wildlife
Trust, and early consultation with the railway companies is essential.
So far as members of the public are concerned, you need
to have the permission of the railway companies before being allowed onto
the rail track. Normally, you will be expected to have completed some sort
of basic safety training before permission is granted. It's not only
badgers who get killed on railway lines.