Research Ideas 1 to 5
Here are some research or discussion ideas for further study.
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Encounters in the wild
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
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
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
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?