Density and abundance of badger social groups in England and Wales in 2011-2013
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In the United Kingdom, European badgers Meles meles are a protected species and an important wildlife reservoir of bovine tuberculosis. We conducted a survey of badger dens (main setts) in 1614 1 km squares across England and Wales, between November 2011 and March 2013. Using main setts as a proxy for badger social groups, the estimated mean density of badger social groups in England and Wales was 0.485 km(-2) (95% confidence interval 0.449-0.521) and the estimated abundance of social groups was 71,600 (66,400-76,900). In the 25 years since the first survey in 1985-88, the annual rate of increase in the estimated number of badger social groups was 2.6% (2.2-2.9%), equating to an 88% (70-105%) increase across England and Wales. In England, we estimate there has been an increase of 103% (83-123%) in badger social groups, while in Wales there has been little change (-25 to +49%).
We are grateful to the thousands of landowners for their kind co-operation in granting access to their land. This study was funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, as part of England and Wales national research activities. Fieldwork was conducted by staff of the National Wildlife Management Centre. Access to data from the 1985–88 survey was licensed by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, to whom the rights of the Nature Conservancy Council had passed.
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Vol. 4, article 3809
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