Tag Archives: mammals

Badger culls risk increased spread of TB to cattle, study finds

BBC NEWS reports culling badgers drives them to roam further afield, allowing them to disperse tuberculosis over a larger area, new research suggests. The culls might thus increase the risk of TB spreading to cattle, the scientists behind the study warn. The review urged the government to explore alternative approaches to culling. It was led by zoologist Sir Charles Godfray, from Oxford University. 

Photo by Tim Brookes under creative commons.

State of Nature Report: UK is in danger of losing a quarter of its mammal population, major wildlife report says

THE TELEGRAPHBBCTHE TIMESINEWSINDEPENDENTCHANNEL 4 NEWS report the Wild Cat and Greater Mouse-eared Bat are among those species teetering on the edge of disappearing, according to the State of Nature Report 2019, the first of its kind conducted in partnership with the government. Other mammals in decline include the European Watervole, the Eurasian beaver, the European hegehog, the Orkney vole and the hazel dormouse.

Nature is in decline, the wide-ranging survey has found, and 41 per cent of UK species studied have noticeably fewer numbers than when rigorous scientific study began in the 1970s. Additionally, 15 per cent of species – nearly 1,200 – are threatened with extinction from Great Britain, because of intensive agriculture and climate change. 

Are we seeing a spike in urban hedgehogs?

The Telegraph reports all the evidence points to a big decline in hedgehog numbers over the past 50 years or so. The good news is that the decline in urban hedgehogs appears to have slowed, and there are even signs that they may be increasing in towns and cities.

Since the main habitat used by hedgehogs in towns is private gardens, that means gardeners who want to help them (which is surely all of us) have a big responsibility. 

Badger cull in England extended to ‘unimaginable scale’ Ministers approve culling in 11 new areas, with 64,000 animals likely to be killed this autumn

The Guardian reports TB infections in cattle blight farms and cost taxpayers more than £100m a year in compensation payments. But scientists and conservationists oppose the cull, saying there is little evidence it is effective and is being badly run.

“The culls have expanded to unimaginable scales, covering an area larger than Israel,” said Prof Rosie Woodroffe, an ecologist at the Zoological Society of London, one of the team that conducted the earlier large-scale trial.“ I cannot understand why the government has permitted this massive expansion of badger culling, when it has not yet responded to the Godfray Review it commissioned and received nearly a year ago,” she said.“ The review concluded the government and farming industry were paying far too much attention to badger management, and far too little attention to cattle-to-cattle transmission, which is responsible for the majority of TB incidents in cattle.”

Photo by Tim Brookes under creative commons.

Vet says badger culls caused ‘immense pain’

The BBC reports up to 9,000 of badgers are likely to have suffered “immense pain” in culls to control cattle TB, according to a former government adviser.

Prof Ranald Munro is the ex-Chair of an independent expert group appointed by the government to assess its trials. He has written to Natural England to say that the policy is causing “huge suffering”. He adds that the culls are not reducing TB in cattle and in one area the incidence of the disease has gone up.

The culls began in 2012 following appeals from cattle farmers whose livelihoods are continuing to be damaged by the spread of TB. 

Badger photo by Sally Langstaff under creative commons.

Hedgehogs get a helping hand to cross busiest roads

The Times reports hedgehogs will soon be able to cross Britain’s highways with a smidgin more confidence as they become the first new animal in 25 years to get their own roadside warning sign.

The creatures will be shown within a red warning triangle at blackspots in an attempt to halt the decline in their numbers and to prevent crashes as drivers swerve to avoid them or motorcyclists skid on roadkill. Previously warning signs were limited to cows, sheep, horses, toads, deer and ducks.

Kill deer to save nightingale from wipeout, says Packham

The Times and iNews report Chris Packham has backed the shooting of deer to stop the sound of the nightingale being silenced in the countryside. The BBC TV wildlife presenter said that deer culling was necessary to stop the steep decline in one of the nation’s favourite songbirds.

Nightingale numbers have fallen by 90 per cent since the 1960s and there are now fewer than 5,500 breeding pairs in the UK.