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Movement of badgers in a high-density population: individual, population and disease


Proceedings: Biological Sciences, 22 July 1998, vol. 265, no. 1403, pp1269-1269(1)


Rogers L. M.; Delahay R.; Cheeseman C. L.; Langton S.; Smith G. C.; Clifton-Hadley R. S.


The movement of 1763 badgers trapped between 36 social groups in Woodchester Park, Gloucestershire, over 18 years was analysed to determine the frequency and duration of moves, the factors associated with a predisposition to move and the spatial pattern of movements. Of those badgers whose capture history could be categorized, nearly half had moved. Of these, 73.1% were classified as 'occasional movers', 22.1% as 'permanent movers' and 4.8% as 'frequent movers'. Most adult badgers that moved made occasional moves (78.8%, n = 67). Cubs made all types of move including permanent moves (29%, n = 10). Seventy per cent of females were non-movers compared with 37% of males. Badgers were significantly more likely to move to smaller groups, whereas male badgers were significantly more likely to move to groups with a greater proportion of females. The spatial pattern of movement differed from the distribution of groups with bovine tuberculosis in the study area. However, temporal changes in movement were significantly related to the incidence of Mycobacterium bovis infection in the following year, indicating that as the movement of badgers between groups varies so does the incidence of bovine tuberculosis in the population. This finding is of central importance in the formulation of badger control policy.

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