The Effect of Translocation on a Social Group of Badgers (Meles Meles)

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Abstract:

A social group of six badgers (Meles meles) (four adults and two cubs) was translocated from urban Bexhill, East Sussex, in August 1993 to a 1216m2 electrified enclosure in a part of Suffolk largely unoccupied by badgers. Three adult badgers (SY2, SY5 and SY6) escaped from the release site prior to the removal of the perimeter fence on 10 December and established a sett near a village, 2.9km from the release site. In January 1994, the remaining adult (SY4) left the release site and moved 1.8km to the grounds of a youth detention centre. The cubs did not desert the site as readily as the adults.

Home-range sizes for two adult females, SY4 and SY6, remained relatively constant, while that of adult male SY2 increased from 50ha in February to nearly 400ha in April. The range of SY2 overlapped parts of the ranges of the two females, although SY4 and SY6's ranges never overlapped.

The percentage volume of scavenged food in the diet increased monthly between February and April which corresponded to increased garden activity over this period. Earthworms were the most important item in the diet. The establishment of both main setts near housing and the preference for foraging in gardens suggests that badgers released into novel environments may search for familiar habitats.

It is concluded that translocation can successfully establish badgers at new locations. However, translocation as a solution to problems caused by badgers must only be viewed as a last resort, not least due to the potential for disease spread.

Keywords: ANIMAL WELFARE; BADGER; DIET; HOME-RANGE SIZE; RELEASE SITE; TRANSLOCATION

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 1996

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