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Research Ideas 1 to 5

Badger Encounters in the Wild book Badger Encounters in the Wild Jim Crumley [Book]
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Encounters in the wild
Here are some research or discussion ideas for further study.

1. Safe Electric Fencing

Electric fencing can provide a highly effective way in which target species can be excluded from a protected area. However, setting an electric fence to exclude a large, heavy animal, like a badger, can result in smaller animals (like frogs) being electrocuted and killed. However, modern household wiring systems now generally incorporate a Residual Current Device (RCD) to help prevent some-one getting a lethal shock.

  • What steps might be taken to develop multi-species fencing which is safe to be used with a wide range of animals?
  • What guidelines might be made available so that people such as farmers, gamekeepers, badger groups and badger consultants might be able to manufacture and install such a fence knowing that it would be safe for all animals?

2. Wildlife Reserves

Some people wryly suggest that the provision of wildlife reserves provides no overall benefit to total population of animals. The argument goes along the lines that whilst the wildlife reserve may contain a higher density of animals than outside the reserve, the area just outside the reserve becomes neglected and "wildlife-poor". Consequently, the argument goes, those external animals spend too much of their time travelling back and forth into the reserve and end up being unable to sustain their natural territories or being at greater risk to road traffic accidents or at higher risk due to more litter and so on.

  • How would you go about researching whether a wildlife reserve does any overall good for a single species (like a badger).
  • How would you begin to assess the boundaries of the area defined by the wildlife reserve?
  • Short of total exclusion, what steps might be taken to make sure that territorial boundaries were away from areas of increased risk - like new roads and picnic sites?
  • What factors should you take into account when deciding on the size of a wildlife reserve, so that it would be big enough to make a positive difference, but not so big that it would be politically/economically impossible?

3. Crop Cycles

The bright yellow Oil Seed Rape crop gives off a certain gas in its roots, and that gas deters earthworms. As there will be fewer earthworms, this means that badgers will have less of their staple food to eat.

  • What research methods would you consider to try and establish whether the sudden imposition of large areas of oil seed rape crops has a deleterious effect on badger numbers, growth to adulthood, and territorial disputes.

4. Territorial Disputes

There is an argument between different badger watchers about whether badger clans ever encroach on the territories of adjacent clans. Some people say that adjacent territories may share sections of land; whereas other people say that those areas of land are battle-zones which clans will gain or lose over the years.

  • What research methods would you consider to try and establish whether such areas are shared between clans or exclusively owned by one clan.

  • How might you establish whether badgers ever make temporary encroaches onto neighbouring territory (for example for feeding), but purposely avoid scent marking on it?

5. Trap-Shy badgers

When DEFRA (and their operatives) have tried to trap badgers - either to test them to see if they have TB or to cull them - they find that there are normally a certain percentage of badgers which they can not capture using cage traps. These individuals are known as "trap-shy".

  • What research methods might you use to try and determine whether badgers are more or less trap-shy in areas where culling has been more common?

  • What factors would you consider using to assess whether trap-shy badgers might have different levels of disease or parasite infection than trapped badgers?

  • What effect might trap-shy badgers have in and around areas where culling takes place, if trap-shy badgers have different levels of infectivity to trapped badgers?