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Research Ideas 21 to 24

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.

21. TB and Cattle Feed Risks

It is assumed that one possible infection route for TB in cattle is that the TB bacteria gets into cattle feed (from cattle, rats, cats, badgers, deer and so on).

What research would you suggest to develop an artificial cattle feed which could be made "TB-resistant".

Such TB-resistance might include the incorporation of an anti-bacterial agent which would kill TB and other infectious bacteria.

It might also include a bacteria detection substance, which provided altered taste characteristics when the feed was infected (so the cows would not eat it).

22. Badgers and their Musk

A badgers musk is an exceptionally important marker, which allows it to be recognised as part of a clan, and to signal its own identity on other badgers or on territorial items (like trees and paths).

To what extent is the chemical composition of the musk of an individual badger affected by other members of the group, or it is a fixed, unchanging formula which that badger keeps for life?

If the musk of a badger is subject to change, is that change dependent on the territory in which it lives - for example, is it dependent on soil composition, flora and fauna, etc?

To what extent does the musk of a badger alter from one area of the country to another? Are there any regional differences? If so, are they significant enough to prevent badger clans from being "assembled" from badgers cubs which are rehabilitated from different regions of the country?

23. Parasites, Infections, Badgers and Cattle

Some people have argued that the recently increasing levels of tuberculosis in cattle is mirrored by the increasing numbers of badgers. That argument goes, that badgers are giving their TB to the cattle. Importantly, though, the level of other cattle infections has seen a similar increase - these including infections such as intestinal worms, bovine diarrhoea and so on.

To what extent does the greater level of intestinal worms and bovine diarrhoea in cattle, lead to greater numbers of badgers being exposed to these damaging parasites. To what extent are badgers infected with these parasites, likely to follow "reckless" behaviour, like visiting cattle sheds or entering baited traps and cages in order to get the increased amounts of food they need?

24. TB Vaccine Proposals

An independent scientists wants to conduct an experiment using badgers; as he thinks he can develop a vaccine to stop badgers getting tuberculosis. Subject to certain rules and regulations (to be agreed), he has received a "nod and a wink" that he will be able to get funding of 1,000,000 to develop a pilot study to assess the likelihood of success, subject to certain objective, science-based rules being met.

  • Discuss what rules and regulations would be appropriate to cover the initial pilot study, and what further rules might be appropriate for the full research project.