ZSL study shows survivors of culls cover 61% greater areas, potentially increasing risk of transmission to cattle.
A study led by researchers from ZSL and Imperial College London has found that culling drives badgers to roam 61% further afield – helping to explain why the practice, intended to reduce bovine TB transmission, can sometimes exacerbate the problem instead.
Published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, the paper reveals that, after a population was culled, surviving badgers covered 61% more land each month than they had before the cull began, leading researchers to conclude that badgers explore new areas as individuals are removed from neighbouring groups and territories open up.
Badgers were also found to visit 45% more fields each month, and the odds of a badger visiting neighbouring territories each night increased 20-fold – potentially increasing the risk of TB transmission both to cattle and to other badgers. These changes were witnessed as soon as culling began, meaning even badgers that were killed may have first spread the infection over wider areas while management was being implemented. MORE