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Warmer winters lead to badger boom

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Daily Telegraph - 12th September 2000

By Roger Highfield, David Derbyshire and Robert Uhlig

BADGER populations are rising in Britain after a succession of mild winters and tougher laws on baiting.

A 20-year woodland study by Oxford University scientists found a strong link between warmer Januarys and a rise in badger numbers. In the Wytham Woods near Oxford, populations rose from around 70 in the early Eighties to around 270 in the late Nineties, Dr Francoise Tattersall said.

"In years with milder Januarys, badgers were also heavier. When it's mild, earthworms are more available because the soil is soft." The study also found that dry summers led to an increase in the number of cubs dying. Without rain, earthworms retreat deep into the soil and are hard to dig out.

Badgers have also benefited from tougher legislation introduced in the Nineties against baiting and the destruction of their setts.

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