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Use of cattle water troughs by badgers

D. T. O'Mahony

BADGERS are a wildlife reservoir for bovine TB in the UK. Water troughs can harbour Mycobacterium bovis, the causative agent of bovine TB and are also areas where livestock and wild ungulates could interact. This study aimed to use infrared, motion-activated cameras to assess the use of water troughs by cattle and badgers in an area in Northern Ireland.

Five water troughs in a 1350-hectare study area were randomly selected for monitoring. The troughs were recorded with the cameras for two and a half months (from May to July). Each of the troughs included in the study were on different farms and in different badger group territories.

All of the troughs were visited by cattle during the study period, although the frequency with which they were used by cattle varied widely. Cattle visits to troughs occurred most frequently between 12.00 and 20.00, and least frequently between 11.00 and 04.00. The number of cattle visits to troughs decreased as the amount of daily rainfall increased. Badgers visited only one water trough included in the study. They were seen to visit this trough on 21 occasions over 14 nights. On 19 of the 21 occasions, individual badgers were seen visiting the trough, but …

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