Tag Archives: badgers

Garden wildlife revealed by world’s biggest survey

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More than half of people in the UK see frogs in their gardens but only a fraction ever see a red squirrel, according to the world’s biggest wildlife survey.

This year, Big Garden Birdwatch participants were asked to tell the RSPB about some of the other wildlife that visits their gardens throughout the year, including common frogs, red and grey squirrels, badgers and hedgehogs.

The RSPB hopes to use it to build an overall picture of how important our gardens are for all types of wildlife and tailor its advice so people can help their wild visitors find a home, feed and breed successfully.

Mammals
According to the results, grey squirrels came out on top overall, with 72% of people seeing them in their gardens at least once a month. At the other end of the scale, the red squirrel, was the least-seen garden visitor, with just 3% of people reporting seeing them on a monthly basis.

The red squirrel, which is threatened by a lethal virus carried by the grey, has been lost from much of the UK. In areas where the greys don’t carry the virus, the reds are still affected, essentially being out-competed by their rivals.

However, in rural Scotland, where the red still has a stronghold almost 1 in 5 people see them in their gardens at least monthly. Although still quite widespread and seen in 67% of the UK’s gardens at least once, hedgehogs were only seen regularly in less than a third of gardens and their populations have seriously declined by around 30% since the millennium.

Badgers are spotted more regularly by people living in rural areas, with 40% reporting to have seen one. However, the black and white mammal isn’t exclusive to the countryside, with 20% of suburban and 15% of urban residents seeing them in their gardens too. Deer are also much more common in the countryside, with around 30% of rural residents seeing roe or muntjac deer in their garden at some point, compared with only 5% of urban dwellers.

Amphibians
When not hibernating, the common frog takes the lead as the most abundant garden amphibian, according to the results. Approximately half of people in the UK see a common frog in their gardens at least monthly, regardless of whether they live in a rural, suburban or urban area.

When it comes to toads, 28% of people see them monthly. The warty amphibians, which have declined especially in central and southern England, are more likely to visit gardens in rural areas, with 41% of householders in these areas seeing them on a monthly basis.

Marina Pacheco, the Mammal Society’s Chief Executive, said: “It’s fantastic to know that gardens can be a vital refuge for rapidly declining species like the red squirrel and hedgehog. As well as taking part in an enjoyable survey, participants have greatly increased our understanding of the distribution and relative abundance of UK mammals.”

 

London rally calls for end to badger cull

About 2,000 people held a rally in London yesterday as licences to cull badgers came into force in two areas.

Up to 5,094 badgers can now be culled in west Somerset and west Gloucestershire. Groups of farmers in the two pilot zones have been given licences to conduct culls using trained marksmen to shoot the animals.

The rally was led by ex-Queen guitarist, Brian May, who delivered a near-250,000 signature petition to Downing Street calling for the cull to be scrapped. He said: “The great bit of new information is it has now been demonstrated that the cull cannot make economic sense. It will lose the taxpayer money rather than save it.

“That was really the last shred of reason that you could give for this cull going ahead. It is a very good time for Mr Cameron to reconsider and withdraw from this monstrous cull, in the public interest.”

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Wildlife crime unit faces extinction over cutbacks

There is growing concern that funding problems may result in Britain’s National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) being axed.

The NWCU is a national police unit that gathers intelligence on wildlife crime and provides investigative support to police services. Defra has agreed its own share of the funding, but the Home Office has yet to sign off the £136,000 required to ensure the unit’s survival. There are fears it may fall foul of the 20 per cent cuts in police budgets being implemented by the Home Secretary, Theresa May.

More than 100 MPs have already signed an early day motion calling on the Government to secure the future of the NWCU, which combats everything from rhino-horn theft and illegal trade in reptiles to persecution of birds of prey. The unit, whose funding runs out on 31 March, has been busier than ever in the last few months. Wildlife crime of all types is rapidly growing across the world, with elephant and rhino poaching hitting new highs last year.

The Badger Trust said it is very concerned and has called on its supporters to both sign a petition and write to their MP, asking for their support. The RSPB is also backing the unit. Spokesperson Grahame Madge said: “With the future of some birds of prey hanging in the balance, it’s imperative that the NWCU  itself has a secure future.”

Vaccine for bovine TB could prevent future badger culls

Vaccine for bovine TB could prevent future badger culls – Telegraph.

Badger vaccination scheme challenges government cull

BBC News – Badger vaccination scheme challenges government cull.

Huge support for badger petition

I was delighted to read that over 100,000 people have signed a petition against the badger cull, which means the issue could now be debated in Parliament.

The e-petition was launched last week by the Queen guitarist, Brian May, as part of the Team Badger campaign, after the first licence to kill the protected wild animal was issued for a pilot cull in Gloucestershire.

There is widespread anger over the Government’s decision to push ahead with the cull, which campaigners say will be of little use in reducing bovine TB, and could even make it worse in some areas.

Supporters of the cull claim the move is necessary in order to tackle TB in cattle because badgers spread the disease to livestock. But Team Badger is angry that over 70% of the badger population will be killed in large areas of the country and  is calling on the Government to implement a vaccination programme, along with improved testing.

Shropshire Wildlife Trust is leading the way. They have started vaccinating badgers against TB and hope their  five-year scheme will show that vaccination is a more effective and humane way of controlling bovine TB.

Food for Thought on Badgers…

MrE Science Blog

If watching the above video makes you feel strongly about the issues discussed then you may wish to sign the petition here.

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