Volunteers are being sought for a new “citizen science” analysis of badger populations in England, amid a renewed row over culling activity intended to reduce the spread of bTB.
Badger Trust officials claimed their “State of the Badger” project will be the first large-scale analysis of population health since the controversial policy began a decade ago.
Analysis of two pilot areas, in Lancashire and Somerset, is currently being planned and officials hope to begin volunteer training later this month.
Influence future strategies
Trust officials hope the project will influence future strategies for the protection of badgers, which it claims are facing “ongoing persecution” as a result of culling.
The trust has been a vehement critic of the culling policy, which it argues is ineffective in tackling bTB in cattle and has killed around 210,000 badgers since 2013.
Last week, it condemned Defra’s plans for a consultation on continued culling activity, accusing officials of presiding over an unprecedented “assault on nature”.
The charity’s research coordinator Victoria Coulton said: “State of the Badger is for the benefit of people as much as it is for badgers.
“We believe strongly that we protect what we love, and we believe that people will love badgers once they get to know them.”
The trust is now seeking volunteers who can undertake sett surveys over at least 1 sq km area in either of the two counties during the coming autumn and winter.
The two counties have been chosen for the pilots because of their existing volunteer networks, habitat similarities, and the presence of both non-cull zones and areas where culling activity has taken place.
The trust also said it wants to work with universities and community groups on the project, which it hopes will lead to similar work elsewhere.
The project is being funded by Lush and the John Spedan Lewis Foundation, as well as donations from other unnamed organisations and individuals.
Anyone interested in taking part can sign up online.
Credit to: Volunteer appeal issued as new badger population study launches (Vet Times)
Vet Times. (2023). Volunteer appeal issued as new badger population study launches [online]
Sign up to receive important information and great offers
Keep up to date with the latest news, insights, product launches and offers from NVS. Enter your email address to sign up and ensure you don’t miss out.