THE PROPERTY crash has meant some losing the roofs over their heads but building is still booming for badgers.
Planners had a problem when they discovered the site for a new state of the art secondary school in Doon already had some young residents - badgers.
The multi-million 850 pupil school for much of East Limerick is called Scoil na Trionóide Naofa.
Under planning conditions by Limerick County Council, the school’s builders had to provide a plan of the five badger setts on site.
As badgers are a protected species a tender went out to move the badgers and build new homes for them nearby. Excavation work at Kilmoylan Lower can’t commence until the badgers have moved on.
The company who won the contract is Michael Maher Contracting in Doon. As Mr Maher isn’t allowed to physically catch the badgers he came up with an ingenious plan.
“If you go around the ditches you will find the burrows. We put in a series of one way doors like cat flaps at the entrances. If they are inside when we fit the doors they won’t move, they will stay put. When we go away and they come out, they can’t go back in that burrow,” said Mr Maher.
Regulations are so tight that they can’t even use a chainsaw or consaw, only hand tools.
You are warned to have no involvement with them. We have no idea how many badgers are there because we have never seen them. But we know there is some because we have seen the evidence - we put up a little marker at night and they have been interfered with,” said Mr Maher, who has been working on the unusual project for the last two weeks with four employees.
Before they installed their “badger flaps” they built new homes for the shy animals.
“We dug down about two and half metres, put in a series of pipes and man made kennels - they are like miniature kennels. They are still on the property - 300 or 400 metres away. It gives them the option to go in there, but they might not. They might just burrow some distance away, they are wild animals but they have the option of going in to purpose built homes,” explained Mr Maher.
Archaeologists had to be called in to inspect the locations where the new setts were built to ensure there was no hidden bones.
Mr Maher and his team finished up their work this week and the next step is for an ecologist to inspect the site.
“After 21 days elapse the inspectors will come back again to ensure they are happy that there are no badgers left at all and construction can start,” said Mr Maher.