Drivers are being asked to take special care on rural roads because the breeding season is fast approaching and the young start to leave their families. Experts estimate that vehicles kill 50,000 of the animals each year, particularly when they emerge at night in search of food.
The Badger Trust said: “Traffic is the number one threat and new roads can divide territories and result in more deaths as badgers continue along their traditional routes. Motorists need to be particularly careful and go around corners ready to brake. If a vehicle is coming the other way you can see its headlights,
but animals don’t have headlights.”
The Highways Agency now considers badger safety when building new roads. As part of the £175m upgrade of the main route between England and Scotland, badger-proof fencing and tunnels are being created to give wildlife a safe route under the motorway.
A dozen such “badger mitigation” schemes are being developed around the country and will join the 250 badger tunnels and some 200km of fencing already along some of Britain’s roads. The proposed high-speed rail line form London to Leeds will also feature these badger-safe accessories.
But the Badger Trust says more needs to be done and is calling for a co-ordinated policy and greater funding to protect the animals from traffic.