About the survey
Teams based at the universities of Nottingham, Surrey and Liverpool are undertaking a collaborative survey of badger carcasses for evidence of tuberculosis.
The survey arises from a collaboration between university veterinary schools and various stakeholders, with funding from DEFRA.
It aims to determine whether or not badgers in the 'edge counties' in England (counties on the edge of the cattle TB epidemic) have TB, and if so how common it is.
In addition, we now have a one-year project to look at badgers from 'low-risk' counties of Lincolnshire and South Yorkshire.
Collaborators and stakeholders:
The approach of the survey is based on a feasibility survey of road killed badgers in Cheshire in 2014. That study found around 20% of road-killed badgers were infected with TB, with 10% of those infected having developed signs of disease.
Live badgers will not be caught or sampled, and no badgers will be harmed as part of the study. Rather, the study will make use of badgers accidentally killed on our roads.
Fresh-found dead badgers will be collected by various stakeholder groups (farmers, other land owners and wildlife groups) collaborating within this project, and the post-mortem examinations and testing for infection will be done by the collaborating veterinary schools.
We aim to share the results of the study regularly – although it needs to be remembered that it can take several months to rule out infection, so the posting of meaningful results will take some time.
Using road-killed/traffic-accident sampling is a valuable way of studying disease and conservation issues in wildlife that makes use of an otherwise wasted resource. We will be using carcasses collected to study a range of other diseases and conditions, and also to develop new diagnostic tests, although these studies are not part of the Defra-funded survey.
We only have the resources to study badgers collected through our collaborators in the edge counties. However we would encourage anybody interested to report all road-killed wildlife through Project Splatter, a national survey linked through to conservation projects and run by Cardiff University.
For safety reasons and to ensure carcasses are collected in a way useful to the project, we cannot accept carcasses unless collected according to an approved protocol and when accompanied by a completed, signed submission form. Details of all carcasses showing evidence of illegal killing will be reported to the relevant authorities. Some more details on this project can be found in our FAQ
A big Thank You to everyone who has helped with this project, particularly those who have collected the carcasses used in the project.
- We now have enough carcasses from all the edge counties apart from Northamptonshire! Thank you again to everyone in those counties for your hard work.
- We just need another eight from Northamptonshire (an 'edge county') and as many as possible from Lincolnshire (a low risk county), please.
- It takes several months of work in the lab before we can be sure whether or not any badger has TB, so it is still too early to draw any conclusions about prevalence or distribution. However, so far we have found TB in a small number of badgers from all six of the Edge counties in the Nottingham study (Cheshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Warwickshire and Northamptonshire). We have not been working on samples from low risk county of Lincolnshire for long enough to know whether or not any badgers from there are infected..
- Most of the infected badgers that we have found do not have any disease associated with the infection – but we have had two badgers that were clearly ill and probably died of TB, both from Cheshire.
- We are also undertaking surveys for other infections in badgers, including salmonella infections.
Badgers collected so far
Badger carcass collection
We are always willing to collect properly bagged and labelled badger carcasses from homes, businesses and individual farms. Carcasses are usually collected within 24-48 hours, except at weekends.
If properly bagged, the carcasses are safe, and will last if placed in a cool space away from scavengers.
In addition, local National Trust, veterinary practices, NFU offices and badger groups are able to store carcasses for collection. Carcasses from Edge counties must be fresh, reasonably intact, and not be frozen or they cannot be used in our study.
We do not have the resources to collect badgers from the roadside ourselves. If you, or your group, wish to be collaborators on the project, please contact us for advice on safe collection and for collection kits.
TC and BJ Crowden Ltd
Tolney Lane, Newark, NG24 1DA
Westpoint Farm Vets
Daventry: Unit 2, Egerton Close, Drayton Fields, Daventry NN11 8PE
Towcester Farm Vets
Towcester Farm Vets, Burcote Road, Towcester, Northants, NN12 6JW
Badger carcass submission form
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Town and country badger survey 2017