Dead badgers along roads a good sign

The mammal looks to be benefiting from a decline in foxes

An old Danish song dictates that a “snail on its way is a sign of rain in Spain” (it rhymes in Danish).

But perhaps even more accurate lyrics would be “more dead badgers along the roads are a sign of a flourishing badger population in Denmark”. And that is currently the case.

“We’re seeing a lot of road-killed badgers at the moment and we can take that as a sign there are many badgers out and about in the Danish landscape – particularly at night,” Ole Noe, a wildlife consultant with the nature authorities Naturstyrelsen, told DR Nyheder.

“So in that way, one can see it as a positive development.”

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Fox’s pain, badger’s gain
The badger has been protected in Denmark since 1994 because it is considered to be vulnerable. Before then, some 3,000 badgers were shot every year – about the same number killed by traffic.

But according to Noe, the increased badger population might not have that much to do with the protection.

“Right now, it could be down to the large number of foxes dying of canine distemper,” he said. “In some areas there are very few foxes left and the badgers benefit from that as there is more food and space for them.”

The badger – which can grow to almost a metre long and weigh up to 18 kilos – has been in Denmark for about 11,000 years and has spread across the entire country, bar a few islands. However, its presence on Funen, Zealand and Lolland-Falster could be down to it being reintroduced there in the 1800s.