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Farmyard Survey. Dr Paddy Sleeman Department of Zoology Ecology and Plant Science, University College, Cork Department of Agriculture and Food. Evidence from UK for visits to yards by badgers.

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farmyard survey

Farmyard Survey

Dr Paddy Sleeman

Department of Zoology Ecology and Plant Science, University College, Cork

Department of Agriculture and Food

evidence from uk for visits to yards by badgers
Evidence from UK for visits to yards by badgers
  • At Woodchester Park visits observed by sick badgers in 1970’s, two infected badgers(Cheeseman & Mallinson 1979); in a more recent study by Ben Garnett, bigger home range by 50% , sixteen badgers studied (Garnett et al 2005)
  • In 449 hours of observation they detected 139 separate visits by badgers to yards using radio-tags and cameras; also found badger dropping in troughs and they could climb 115 cm.(Garnett et al 2002)
  • Visits mainly in dry weather
  • A survey of farms in south west 36 farms in eight seasons found 33 faeces on 10 farms, two with BTB and an infected cadaver, they estimated that 39% of farms were visited and 30% had risk- (Ward, Tolhurst and Delahay 2006)
in summary
In Summary
  • Over the 200 farm visits twice and farmers keeping an eye open in the interim there were five reports of badgers in yards, and of these four of these yards had no dogs.
  • We found two series of tracks and one (deserted) sett.
  • Lots of other species especially rats and foxes
are we sure
Are we sure ?
  • What sceptic would like done is for a badger to be carried into a farm yard, released and then surveyors sent in ‘blind’ to find tracks.

Could this be done ? One two yards in Great Island where there is no BTB and a history of yard visits by badgers it was done.

capture release study
Capture-release study
  • On ten nights in January and Feburary 2007 ten badgers were captured and released in two farm yards.
  • Of these ten the tracks were found on six occasions.
  • They were found quickly but not the whole length.
weather water and badger tracks
Weather, water and badger tracks
  • Water is essential for tracking
  • Water also drowns tracks, especially the

oose between toes

It is estimated that 20mm of rain would

destroy all tracks in open

implications of capture release study
Implications of capture-release study
  • Wet conditions helps tracks be made and destroyed
  • When track is found in wet weather it can be assumed to be very fresh- last nights
  • Tracks are used widely to study badgers and other mammals especially otters and the short lived nature of the tracks in typical Irish conditions need be be understood
implications of whole study
Implications of whole study
  • Reports of visits to farm yards by badgers

occurred in 2.5 % of farms.

We found evidence of badgers in 1% of yards

  • Visits by badgers to Irish yards in winter are rare and tend not to be associated with BTB outbreaks
  • Where they occur tends to be in yards where dogs are absent
  • Most transmission from badgers to cattle is

occurring elsewhere

we wish to thank
We wish to thank
  • James O Keeffe who with Wayne Martin and Leight Courner designed the study, lifted data on herds and passed it on, Marion Murphy, Daniel Buckley, Daphne Roycroft, Katherine Kelleher, Ciara O’Leary-Fitzpatrick and Carl Dixon who helped with surveys, especially with mobile telephoning, and the capture release team; George Lane and Harry Cummins (Cork DVO), Finbarr O’Shea, Alan Whittaker and Mick Mackey. Finally the two farmers; John Coleman & David Verling, who put up with a lot!
  • Cheeseman, CL, & Mallionson, PJ, (1980) Radio tracking in the study of bovine tuberculosis In Amlander, CI & Macdonald, DW (eds) AHandbook of biotelemetry and radio tracking Oxford, Pergamon Press
  • Garnett, B. Delahay, RJ., & Roper, TJ., (2002) Use of cattle farm resources by badgers (Meles meles) and risk of bovine tuberculosis (Mycobacterium bovis) transmission to cattle. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B 269: 1487-1491
  • Garnett, B. Delahay, RJ, & Roper, TJ, (2005) Ranging behaviour of the European badger (Meles meles) in relation to bovine tuberculosis (Mycobacterium bovis) infection. Applied Animal Behaviour 94: 331-340
  • Sleeman, D.P. & Mulcahy, M.F., (1993) Behaviour of Irish badgers in relation to bovine tuberculosis. In Hayden, T.J. (ed) The Badger, Royal Irish Academy, Dublin