European badger (Meles meles) responses to low-intensity, selective culling: using mark recapture and relatedness data to assess social perturbation

dc.contributor.authorAllen, Adrian
dc.contributor.authorMilne, Margaret Georgina
dc.contributor.authorMcCormick, Charles M.
dc.contributor.authorCollins, Shane
dc.contributor.authorO'Hagan, Maria
dc.contributor.authorSkuce, Robin A.
dc.contributor.authorTrimble, Nigel
dc.contributor.authorHarwook, Roland
dc.contributor.authorMenzies, Fraser
dc.contributor.authorByrne, Andrew W.
dc.descriptionPublication history: Accepted - 20 June 2022; Published online - 28 July 2022en_US
dc.description.abstractCulling the main wildlife host of bovine tuberculosis in Great Britain (GB) and Ireland, the European badger (Meles meles), has been employed in both territories to reduce infections in cattle. In GB, this has been controversial, with results suggesting that culling induces disturbance to badger social structure, facilitating wider disease dissemination. Previous analyses hypothesized that even very low-level, selective culling may cause similar deleterious effects by increasing ranging of individuals and greater mixing between social groups. To assess this hypothesis, a novel, prospective, landscape-scale ‘before-and-after’ Test and Vaccinate or Remove (TVR) study was implemented. Test-positive badgers were culled and test-negative badgers were Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccinated and released. Mark–recapture metrics of badger ranging and genetic metrics of social group relatedness did not change significantly over the study period. However, selective culling was associated with a localized reduction in social group relatedness in culled groups. Ecological context is important; extrapolation across territories and other disease epidemiological systems (epi-systems) is likely to be challenging. However, we demonstrate that small-scale, selective removal of test-positive badgers was not associated with metrics of increased ranging but was associated with localized changes in social group relatedness. This adds to the evidence base on badger control options for policy makers.en_US
dc.description.sponsorshipDepartment of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) NIen_US
dc.identifier.citationAllen, A., Milne, G., McCormick, C., Collins, S., O’Hagan, M., Skuce, R., Trimble, N., Harwood, R., Menzies, F. and Byrne, A.W. (2022) ‘European badger ( Meles meles ) responses to low‐intensity, selective culling: Using mark–recapture and relatedness data to assess social perturbation’, Ecological Solutions and Evidence. Wiley. doi:10.1002/2688-8319.12165.en_US
dc.rights© 2022 The Authors. Ecological Solutions and Evidence published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Ecological Society. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.en_US
dc.subjectgroup relatednessen_US
dc.subjectpopulation geneticsen_US
dc.subjectselective cullingen_US
dc.titleEuropean badger (Meles meles) responses to low-intensity, selective culling: using mark recapture and relatedness data to assess social perturbationen_US
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