‘Super-Ranger’ badgers may hold the key to limiting the spread of bovine TB
New research that we have just been published in PLOS ONE with the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine and The National Wildlife Service examines the ranging behaviour of Irish badges and reports a never-before-seen 'super-ranging' behaviour.
This discovery, revealed through long-term GPS tracking, fundamentally changes our understanding of badger ecology, because it illustrates that male badgers engage in two alternative ranging strategies in a single population. Most badgers stay at home, but super-rangers have territories that are much larger than their social group-mates. While the vast majority of Irish badgers are healthy, our research has significant implications for understanding the role that badgers may play in the transmission of TB to cattle in Ireland. Having a greater understanding of how badgers move about their environment allows greater insight into where the greatest risks for transmission are likely to be. This, in turn, can inform more efficient disease control strategies, such as badger vaccination, by highlighting the individuals that should be prioritised with the vaccine.
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