December 19, 2007

Badger culls 'boost fox numbers'
BBC News -
19 Dec 2007
P Rincon
Area: United Kingdom
Photos courtesy of BBC News

Culling badgers in order to control bovine tuberculosis (bTB) can cause a doubling in fox numbers, UK government scientists have found. This could impact on livestock farming and conservation, the authors write in Biology Letters journal. The researchers looked at effects on foxes during the badger culling trials in England between 1998 and 2006. Their figures show that intensive culling of badgers resulted in roughly one extra fox per square kilometre.

Red foxes are of concern to farmers and conservationists alike because they prey on livestock, ground-nesting birds and brown hares. They are widely culled by farmers and gamekeepers.
Many farmers blame badgers for a sharp increase of bTB in their herds. But culling the animals remains a controversial option.

The Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT) was set up to investigate how bTB spread between cattle, badgers and other wildlife. It also enabled scientists to assess the effects of badger culls on other species sharing the same ecosystem.

Related Journal Article

PLUM ISLAND: U.S.: Disease center needs more security –
19 Dec 2007
JS Kelleher
Area: Suffolk County, New York, USA

Security measures have yet to be fully implemented at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, despite significant improvements to safeguard the facility against terrorist attacks, according to a report released by the investigative arm of Congress.

The Government Accountability Office's report, released Monday, states that Department of Homeland Security still needs to implement six out of 24 recommendations that will further protect the facility, where contagious foreign animal diseases including the foot-and-mouth virus are researched and diagnosed. Release of pathogens could cause catastrophic economic loss. Fully implementing the remaining recommendations is necessary to "reduce the risk of pathogen theft and to enhance response capabilities at Plum Island," the report said.

Current security shortcomings outlined in the report include no finalized agreement for providing background checks on contractors and visitors; a need for more exercises with Southold police to test Plum Island's response capability; and limiting access to pathogens by ensuring that all those involved in laboratory activities in the biocontainment area be approved in accordance with law.

photo courtesy of National Geo graphic Photo of the Day, Joel Sartore


Landscape genetics and the spatial distribution of chronic wasting disease [online abstract only]
Biology Letters. 2007 Dec 11 [Epub ahead of print]
JA Blanchong et al

Toxoplasmosis in a woodchuck (Marmota monax) and two American red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) [online abstract only]
Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation. 2007 Nov;19(6): 705-709
DS Bangari et al

Antemortem diagnosis and characterization of nasal intranuclear coccidiosis in Sulawesi tortoises (Indotestudo forsteni) [online abstract only]
Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation. 2007 Nov;19(6): 660-667
CJ Innis et al

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