Badger Bait Marking for BBOWT: surveys at Chimney Meadows Reserve, Oxfordshire

Badger Bait Marking for BBOWT: surveys at Chimney Meadows Reserve, Oxfordshire

BSG Ecology has recently completed a badger survey, for the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) on their Chimney Meadows reserve. Part of the reserve was also covered by a bait marking survey. This has revealed that there are three different badger clans using the area covered, has allowed a better understanding of the size of badger territories and of which setts are used by the different groups. This will inform the detail of BBOWT’s approach to vaccination of badgers (against bovine tuberculosis), as well as giving more insight into how clans use the reserve and interact with each other.

The bait marking study involved feeding a mixture of syrup, peanuts and indigestible (variously) coloured pellets at the five largest setts in the bait marking area (two of which were classified as main setts). Searches for coloured pellets in badger latrines were then completed during early 2019 in order to map out the territorial boundaries of the clans. BSG Ecology staff trained BBOWT volunteers both to mix and deploy the feed and in the survey method, through inviting them to accompany ecologists undertaking latrine surveys. As is often the case, the results indicated evidence of promiscuity (individuals of both sexes will leave their clan territory to seek a mate), but clearly identified three clans and the ownership of the various outlier setts within the survey area. The deployment of remote activated cameras allowed footage of the animals to be captured, some of which can be seen below.

The work was led by Senior Ecologist John Baker, who holds a badger class license and has considerable experience of badger ecology and mitigation.

Julia Lofthouse, Mammal Project Manager for BBOWT commented, “Thank you to all at BSG Ecology for your effort in carrying out the bait marking study, and in particular for your generosity in undertaking a large proportion of the work pro bono. The information is of great value to the Trust.”

If you need assistance with badger survey, mitigation or licensing please don’t hesitate to contact one of our offices.

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