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A RECENT news item in Veterinary Record reported that a study carried out by Woodroffe and others (2016) did not record any direct contact between the studied badgers and cattle during the three years of the study (VR, August 13, 2016, vol 179, p 160). That perhaps should not have come as a surprise, for why should an animal weighing between 10 and 12 kg wish to have, or risk, direct contact with animals weighing perhaps 700 kg or more. It is a risk that brings no appreciable benefit. However, the badger does choose to share the pasture with the cattle because it is the environment richest in its preferred food item, the earthworm, although, so it would seem, it keeps out of the way of the cattle.
The news item goes on to report that ‘transmission may typically occur through contamination of the two species’ shared environment'. This is a concept that I have never had …