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Badgers avoid cattle

Anecdotal evidence of badgers giving cattle a wide berth has been known for a long time. Now, for the first time, there's a quantitative evidence that badgers out foraging in pastures keep their distance from cattle.

In a paper published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science (144 (2013): 130-137), Enda Mullen of the National Parks and Wildlife Service et al. record the use made by GPS-collared wild badgers of a series of pastures which were grazed on a rotational basis by cows. Badgers were found to avoid paddocks with cattle in them. Even preferred paddocks were avoided when cattle were present. 

Direct inter-specific transmission of bovine TB is considered unlikely and greater study of indirect transmission routes is recommended. The authors say "There is no doubt that badgers do transmit TB to cattle and that they are recognised as a reservoir for the disease...". In context it's fair comment, but the the truth is that the disease is bovine TB and it might be equally well be said that "There is no doube that the cattle transmit TB to badgers, and vice versa, and that both are recognised as a reservoir for the disease...".


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