Tuesday, November 4, 2014 - 12:11
Court rules otters must be protected from cars
The court in the Hague decided that road crossings must be made safer for otters. This means that the government has to build tunnels under roads and ledges under bridges so that otters can cross without being hit by cars. Foundation Das&Boom and Otterstation Nederland initiated the lawsuit because they fear that otters are again going extinct in the Netherlands. More than 100 otters live in the Netherlands. Last year at least 21 one were run over. So far this year 31 have been killed by cars hitting them, says research bureau Alterra. Work to help otters has already been done in some places, but according to nature clubs it has not been sufficiently completed, like at the A7 by Oudehaske. "There is a very beautiful walkway, a kind of bridge-like structure, as well as a grid. Fencing sends the otters towards the walkway so that they can safely get to the other side. Only the grid is not finished, and therefore sometimes an otter still ends up on the busy road" says Addy de Jong from Otterstation. The 22 urgent traffic trouble spots need to be adjusted within a year, says the court. There are also 79 potential trouble spots, but for the time being the government does not have to do anything there. The government is required to do so because the otter has a protected status. The otter was extinct in the Netherlands. The last specimen was run over in 1988 near Joure. The animal had to contend with pollution, more traffic and destruction of habitat. In 2002 action was take by the government to reintroduce otters in the Dutch countryside. Since then their numbers have been growing steadily. But simultaneously two thirds of otters are run over, especially juveniles.