Lutra 53(2)_Dekker & Bekker_2010

Badger (Meles meles) road mortality in the Netherlands: the characteristics of victims and the effects of mitigation measures

Of the badger (Meles meles) population in the Netherlands of the 1980s, a high percentage (locally up to 25%) of the population was killed yearly by road traffic. This led the Dutch authorities to instigate mitigation measures such as fauna tunnels and fences. Between 1990 and 2006 data has been gathered on badger victims in the Netherlands which can be used to test if these mitigation measures have been effective. We present here data on the total number, age and sex of the victims, their distribution over the Netherlands, and over national, provincial and municipal roads and test whether mitigating measures results in a decrease in traffic victims. The badger victim dataset shows a clear peak in victims in March, and relatively low numbers in December, January and February. Most fatalities occurred within the distribution range of the badger. Nationally, the sex-ratio of victims did not differ from 1:1, but in 1990, more of the fatalities outside the badger’s distribution range were female. In absolute terms, most victims were reported from municipal roads. However, relative to the total length of roads within the range of the badger, most victims occurred on provincial roads. The number of traffic victims is significantly lower when mitigation measures have been in place for a while. The challenge for conservation lies in minimising victim numbers at provincial and municipal roads. As badger victims occur over a huge length of municipal roads mitigation along these routes will be difficult. Still, a number of measures are recommended, including for example placing fauna passages at well-known badger tracks, decreasing speed limits, relocating badger setts or closing roads for through traffic.