Trainspotting badgers wreak havoc
Isle of Wight News - December 1997
Note:- Please read this
article, then read the follow
up article to see just how well MAFF really did!
Train buffs at one of Britain's most popular steam railway
lines have been forced to tackle a problem far worse than leaves
on the line ....... a whole honeycomb of badger setts have sprung
up under their tracks!
Now, officials from the Ministry of Agriculture have been
called in to advise the steam enthusiasts at Havenstreet, Isle of
Wight on how best to relocate the four-legged trainspotters.
Commercial director of the five-mile line, Jim Loe, said the
sets were found in a section of embankment over which trains
carrying tens of thousands of tourists chug each year.
The steam railway is now having to spend an undisclosed amount
on repairs to the embankment to make it 100 percent safe.
Mr Loe said: "The erosion of the embankment was getting so
bad we had to investigate. When we saw the size of the holes we
knew it was badgers underneath. "We called in the Ministry of
Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for advice, but when we saw the
extent of damage the badgers had done it was remarkable - there
seemed to be a honeycomb of sets right the way under the track
that went on for about 50ft!"
Mr Loe said the Ministry advised the railway to continue repair
work while under its supervision and the badgers gradually moved
out from under the track to a new site half-a-mile down the line.
"We received advice from the Ministry concerning the safety
of the badgers and they confirmed it would be okay to proceed with
the repair work. Luckily they decided not to build their new sets
under another section of track but moved to a bank in a cutting
further down the line."
The extensive repairs took a total of five days to complete,
and in order to ensure the badgers were not trapped in under the
track, the Ministry designed special one-way trapdoors which let
the badgers get out but not back in.
"We were concerned over the welfare of the animals so the
Ministry gave us the idea of the trapdoors which we constructed
specially for the job - after all one of the reasons why people
ride on the trains is the vast array of wildlife we have in the
area," said Mr Loe.
The badger, a protected species, is common-place on the Island
with the local badger protection group estimating a resident
population of 1,500 of the nocturnal mammals.
The Island's badgers have become specially protected after the
local council introduced an English Nature-backed scheme earlier
this year which ensured the location of all known sets are kept
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