, Volume 57, Issue 1, pp 67-76
Date: 08 Jun 2010

Assessing spatiotemporal associations in the occurrence of badger–human conflict in England

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Abstract

Examples from a variety of taxa demonstrate that under certain circumstances, the exclusion or translocation of ‘problem’ animals is ineffective in resolving human–wildlife conflicts and may even elicit new problems elsewhere. Damage caused by badger setts (burrows) is an important source of human–wildlife conflict in the UK and is commonly managed by excluding badgers from all or part of problem setts. We used records of licences issued for the management of such problems and a novel statistical approach to assess spatiotemporal associations between problem cases in England from 2002 to 2005. We predicted that management at urban badgers' setts, and particularly exclusion of badgers from urban main setts, would give rise to subsequent problems at focal setts and in neighbouring areas. Frequencies of problems occurring at individual setts were similar in urban and rural areas. In areas neighbouring setts subjected to management action, the background frequency of problems was higher in urban than in rural areas, reflecting the occurrence of problems at a higher proportion of urban setts. The frequency of new cases arising at or in the vicinity of managed setts within a critical time period after management action was not significantly different from the background frequency of problems for any combination of land use, sett type and management approach. This finding suggests that the measures currently employed for managing problem setts do not importantly increase the likelihood of problems reoccurring in the same location or emerging nearby.

Communicated by C. Gortázar