Badger numbers increase

A report in the Guardian today (23 January) says that according to a new scientific survey, the number of active badger setts has doubled over the past 30 years. But the scientists say that no conclusion can be drawn from this that the rise is responsible for the increase in bovine TB in cattle.

The population increase is said to be due to the protection badgers have enjoyed since 1992, and perhaps in part due to milder winters. The survey has been carried out over the past two winters, and the total number of clans is now thought to be around 70,000. The increase has largely taken place in England, while in Wales the population has not changed.

Johanna Judge, at the government's Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency who led the research published in the journal Scientific Reports, said: "There is not a straightforward linear relationship between the number of badgers and the level of TB, so we can't draw any reliable conclusions about badgers and cattle and TB from this work."

To read the full article by Patrick Barkham in the Guardian, click here.