Cattle and badger GPS and contact collars Our research is based at sites representing a range of badger densities throughout Cornwall. A combination of GPS collars (to monitor animal locations) and video surveillance are used to give an unbroken picture of badger and cattle movements both indoors and outdoors. Proximity sensors to record when badgers come close to collared cattle provide additional information on contact. Using these three methods in parallel result in data that can be analysed to provide indices of direct and indirect contact.
Having observed patterns of badger-cattle contact, we shall explore the effectiveness of management proposed to reduce such contact, for example by experimentally excluding badgers from farm buildings and/or excluding cattle from field margins.
Where necessary, our work is licensed by Natural England and the Home Office.
June 2013: This month we’ve been deploying our CCTV cameras in each of the barns on the farms we’re working with. As the GPS collars will not work indoors, the CCTV will record the behaviour of any badgers entering cattle barns and any interactions between cattle and badgers. We’ve had a lot of help from a local company, Handykam, to put together CCTV systems that will be quick and easy for us to put up in the barns and that we can easily switch between farms. It seems to be going well so far, especially as we’ve been lucky enough to have the help of our two newly recruited interns, Cally and Amber, who have been fantastic!
We’ve also had some media interest in our project this month. While we were trapping a photographer came along to produce some photos for an article in the Guardian.
May 2013: Trapping again! It’s been all go this month with pre-baiting and trapping of two of our sites. It’s been incredibly exciting as we’ve managed to deploy most of our collars which means that soon we’re going to have data showing where our badgers go and which cattle they come into direct contact with. We’re using two different collars on our badgers from two separate companies. First we have the GPS collars from Telemetry Solutions which will give us the location of the badger every 20 minutes. Then we have the contact collars provided by Vectronic Aerospace; these will be recognised by the cattle collars (also provided by Vectronic Aerospace), which will record cattle position by GPS every 20 minutes, along with the location when they come into contact with a badger wearing a proximity tag. Now we’re just looking forward to collecting the data!