Small culls spread badgers

Researchers for the Independent Scientific Group have attempted to explain their recommendation for a few large-scale culls instead of a higher number of smaller culls in a second scientific paper.*

In the report, released this week, the researchers showed that, while a local cull reduces badger population densities, it alters their behaviour in such a way as to increase the spread of the disease.

Because culling altered territorial arrangements, the remaining badgers travelled more widely.

This means that cattle could, potentially, encounter more badgers than in areas without culling.

This supports the ISG’s assertion that the biggest reduction in TB would be at the epicentre of any culling area while herds on the boundaries are likely to suffer an increase.

Hence the group has recommended fewer, larger culling areas rather than many smaller areas.

* The Effects of culling on badger (Meles meles) spatial organisation: implications for the control of bovine tuberculosis was published in the Journal of Applied Ecology on Weds, 14 December.

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