Fact-based scientifically-accurate educational information about Badgers
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Research Ideas 16 to 20

Badger Encounters in the Wild book Badger Encounters in the Wild Jim Crumley [Book]
Superb book of Jim Crumley's encounters with badgers in the wild in Scotland. The quality of the writing is superb. A great  read. Click here to buy:
Encounters in the wild
Here are some research or discussion ideas for further study.

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 environmental contaminants?

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 it.

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 for badgers?