Research Ideas 16 to 20
Here are some research or discussion ideas for further study.
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16. Urban Badgers
Whilst mainly animals of the countryside, a few clans of badgers do
live deep in the towns and cities. These urban badgers are presumed to be
at a higher than average risk because of the risk of limited foraging
grounds and sett locations.
- Assess the methods which might be used to calculate the minimum
green space needed for urban badgers.
- Also include the requirements that might be laid down by Planning
Officers, to ensure that developers genuinely leave enough green space
for setts; and have enough readily accessible green space (in gardens
and communal areas) to allow for effective sustainable foraging.
17. Humane TB Infectivity Testing
Apart from the unreliable skin-prick test for TB in cattle, the most
reliable method for assessing TB infections is to examine a dead animal.
It is believed that in the early stages of a TB infection, the animal
with the infection has a zero or very to close to zero level of
infectivity. As the TB infection worsens, the level of infectivity rises.
As the infection is most likely to be transferred through body fluids
or faeces of a live animal, what tests might you be able to develop on
those body fluids/faeces to test the level of TB infectivity.
If it proved possible to assess TB infectivity in this way, what
considerations might you need to take into account as to whether a territorial
level of infectivity was high enough to justify a cull of all the badgers
in that territory.
Given that, you might be testing body fluids or faeces, are their any
other tests which could be done at the same time, to discover more useful
information about the animal concerned. Examples might be the type and
seriousness of any parasitic infections, pregnancy, stress levels or
18. Building a Badger Group
In the rescue of injured badgers, it is often the case, that badgers
can not be returned to their original clan territory, and so need to be
re-homed with a new clan in a new (nearby) territory.
The normal practice is that badgers are rehabilitated close to one
another, so they can form bonds with ones another before being penned into
a new sett. Over the space of a few days, the area of the pen is widened,
and artificial feeding is withdrawn; with the intention that the badgers
can become true "wild-living" animals again.
Before trying to assemble a new badger group, should workers do more to
try and assess the compatibility of the badgers - either to improve the
chances of a successful rehabilitation or to reduce any risks due to
accidental inbreeding or genetic defects.
Based on the assumption that each badger has its own unique
musky-smell, and each clan has its own unique communal smell, should
badger rescuers do more to try and assemble badgers into clans, based on
their musky smell as well as their age and sex?
19. Colonial Ambitions
For a long time it has been believed that badgers are relatively poor
at re-colonising an area from where badgers have been removed (for
example, due to culling).
Using the DEFRA cull areas as a starting point, how might you begin to
assess the extent to which badgers will begin to re-colonise an empty
area. To what extent is the rate of re-colonisation due to the inherent
cautiousness of the badger species, and to what extent is it due to the
territory itself, and negative influences surrounding it (such as wide
rivers, poor feeding, barriers such as motorways, etc). How would you assess the extent to
which badgers may be reluctant to go into a territory, if there are no
badgers there already to suggest to them that it might be a viable
location in which to live or feed?
20. Badgers and their sense of taste
It is argued that one reason why badgers enter into farm buildings is
because they find the artificial cattle feed highly palatable. Of course,
such feed is designed to be highly palatable for cows, so they like eating
How might you assess the sense of taste of badgers and cattle?
What experiments might you conduct to assess whether certain feedstuffs
are more or less palatable to badgers or cattle?
To what extent might it then be possible to produce an artificial
cattle feed, which is highly palatable for cows, but highly unpalatable