Research, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, reports on the impact of culling on individual badger behaviour.
Lord John Krebs FRS FMedSci, Emeritus Professor of Zoology, University of Oxford, said:
“This research shows how important it is to find out about badger behaviour. It shows that culling badgers can cause surviving individuals in an area to move around more, and as a result they could come into contact with infected cattle and help to spread TB. The ill-thought out plan to control TB by killing badgers could therefore backfire.”
Prof Robbie McDonald, Chair in Natural Environment, Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter, said:
“This is a welcome study that uses satellite tracking to see what badgers do when culling takes place. The findings are not surprising, as disruption of badger social structure has been well described previously. However, this study shows the immediacy of the response and the scale of change brought about by badger culling.
“The link between this sort of social effect of badger culling and predicting any detrimental effects of badger culling on disease in cattle is harder to prove. While the increased movement of badgers in response to culling is more or less a certainty, variation in how culling is done, the scale, intensity and duration of culling governs how likely it is to see a positive outcome for cattle. Effectively, if culling is done for long enough, over a large enough area, and with the required efficiency, this sort of detrimental effect of social disruption and increased movement might be overcome and lead to a reduction in cattle disease. Alternatively, if culling is not done with enough rigour, there may be detrimental effects.”
‘Effect of culling on individual badger Meles meles behaviour: Potential implications for bovine tuberculosis transmission’ by Ham et al. was published in Journal of Applied Ecology at 00:01 UK time on Wednesday 9th October.
Prof Robbie McDonald: “No conflicts of interest”
None others declared.