Video: Professor Malcolm Bennett speaks about the importance of the study
Scientists at The University of Nottingham are testing for tuberculosis in badgers found dead on roads to track the spread of TB in cattle.
The study is to see whether or not badgers living in counties around the edge of the increasing TB epidemic in cattle are infected or not.
Professor Malcolm Bennett and the team of researchers are looking at Nottinghamshire specifically because it could be an area where the epidemic moves to next.
We don’t have a huge amount of TB in cattle here yet
He said: “Nottinghamshire is right on the edge of the area of the epidemic but we don’t have a huge amount of TB in cattle here yet.
“This study in Notts is based upon a study in Cheshire where we found 20% of badgers that were killed on a road had TB, which was a much higher number than what we were expecting.
“It’s important to find the figures out because otherwise control programs, such as culling, that are put in place may be irrelevant to what’s really going on.”
They make use of an otherwise wasted resource
Professor Bennett believes that the researchers are making the most of a resource that would have been wasted.
He said: “Using road-killed badgers is a valuable way of studying disease and conservation issues in wildlife that makes use of an otherwise wasted resource.
“The prevalence and geographic distribution of TB in badgers on the edge of the cattle epidemic is currently unknown yet of obvious importance to future TB control policy.
“While there is a wealth of evidence to inform cattle-based control measures, the role, if any, of badgers in the spread of TB in the edge counties is not yet clear so we are keen to address this.”