Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers Explain Why Badger Culling Fails To Control Cattle Tuberculosis

Date:
December 21, 2005
Source:
Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Summary:
Researchers have discovered the most likely reason why localised culling of badgers (Meles meles) has failed to control bovine tuberculosis (TB) in British cattle. Published online by the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology, the study reveals that even though culling reduces badger population density, it alters their behaviour in such a way as to increase spread of the disease. The findings have major implications for future strategies to control TB in cattle.

Badger culling can have mixed effects on controlling TB in cattle, researchers report.
Credit: Photo : Richard Yarnell / courtesy of Imperial College London

Researchers have discovered the most likely reason why localised culling of badgers (Meles meles) has failed to control bovine tuberculosis (TB) in British cattle. Published online by the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology, the study reveals that even though culling reduces badger population density, it alters their behaviour in such a way as to increase spread of the disease. The findings have major implications for future strategies to control TB in cattle.

Dr Rosie Woodroffe and colleagues from the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB and the Central Science Laboratory found that, where badger densities had been reduced by culling, territorial organisation was disrupted and badgers travelled more widely. Where culling was widespread, badger densities appear low enough that, despite this increased ranging, cattle herds encounter few badgers.

However, localised culling - similar to that carried out as government policy for more than 20 years - increases movement but reduces density only slightly, so that cattle herds potentially encounter more badgers than in areas without culling. These effects also help to explain new findings on the impact of badger culling on cattle TB to be published on 14 December by the journal Nature.

According to Woodroffe: "We found that badgers in and around areas subject to culling range more widely than those in undisturbed populations, potentially increasing their contact rates both with cattle and other badgers. These results help to explain why badger culling appears to have failed to control cattle TB in the past, and should be taken into account in determining what role, if any, badger culling should play in future control strategies."

Woodroffe and her team used bait marking to assess the impact of culling on badger behaviour and spatial organisation. The study was based on 13 of the 30 trial areas enrolled in the Randomised Badger Culling Trial, including Devon, Cornwall, Herefordshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Somerset. By placing bait (peanuts mixed with treacle) containing colour markers (small indigestible plastic beads) at main badger setts for 12 days, and mapping faeces containing the colour markers, the researchers were able to work out how far badgers ranged in culled compared with non-culled areas.

Badger home ranges were consistently larger in culling areas. Moreover, in areas not subjected to culling, home range sizes increased with proximity to the culling area boundary. Patterns of overlap between home ranges were also influenced by culling.

As well as providing a plausible biological mechanism explaining the apparently greater incidence of cattle TB in some areas, it also underscores the importance of ecological research in evidence-based policy making. "These ecological insights are of crucial importance in evaluating badger culling as a TB control measure. Ecological data will also be important in determining whether other management actions, such as badger vaccination or improved cattle controls, might be more effective," Woodroffe says.

###

A related paper by the same authors will be published online by Nature on 14 December 2005.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Blackwell Publishing Ltd.. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Blackwell Publishing Ltd.. "Researchers Explain Why Badger Culling Fails To Control Cattle Tuberculosis." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 December 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051219084351.htm>.
Blackwell Publishing Ltd.. (2005, December 21). Researchers Explain Why Badger Culling Fails To Control Cattle Tuberculosis. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051219084351.htm
Blackwell Publishing Ltd.. "Researchers Explain Why Badger Culling Fails To Control Cattle Tuberculosis." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051219084351.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Will Living Glue Be A Thing?

Will Living Glue Be A Thing?

Newsy (Sep. 23, 2014) Using proteins derived from mussels, engineers at MIT have made a supersticky underwater adhesive. They're now looking to make "living glue." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tiger Kills Man at India Zoo

Raw: Tiger Kills Man at India Zoo

AP (Sep. 23, 2014) A white tiger killed a young man who climbed over a fence at the New Delhi zoo and jumped into the animal's enclosure on Tuesday, a spokesman said. (Sept. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cat Lovers Flock to Los Angeles

Cat Lovers Flock to Los Angeles

AFP (Sep. 22, 2014) The best funny internet cat videos are honoured at LA's Feline Film Festival. Duration: 00:56 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Washed-Up 'Alien Hairballs' Are Actually Algae

Washed-Up 'Alien Hairballs' Are Actually Algae

Newsy (Sep. 22, 2014) Green balls of algae washed up on Sydney, Australia's Dee Why Beach. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins