9

I spent much of today cycling around quiet country lanes in South Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Oxfordshire, and saw at least 6 dead badgers on the road. I saw a few others earlier in the week on different lanes (similarly quiet). One or two wouldn't have surprised me, but I ride this area a lot, and have never seen so many (even taking into account that this was a longer ride).

So is there some reason for badgers to be getting hit by cars at the moment? Do last year's young disperse in spring, or something like that, allowing not-exactly-natural selection to take its course? Or are they looking for mates?

13

Its a combination of the male badgers out looking for mates,

Springtime is the most perilous time for wild animals, says Whelan. “A lot of male badgers are killed in spring because they’re out looking for females.” It is more of a problem if a female is killed: “If around four or five female badgers are killed in a particular area, it can significantly reduce the population.”

Source

and that the females have recently had their litters in January-March so there are more young around.

They can mate at any time of the year. Around 80 per cent of mature females are fertilised in February/March, immediately after the birth of their young, but individuals continue to mate through the year, to another peak in August/September, when some yearling females also come into oestrus (heat) and breed for the first time.

...

Consequently, all the young are born between mid-January and mid-March, after which they can emerge from the sett to the warmth of the spring.

Source

  • 1
    It's hard to imagine anyone improving significantly on this, but I'll hold off accepting until tomorrow as is my habit – Chris H Apr 1 '18 at 20:06
4

I'm afraid there is a good chance it will be human intervention. Badger culling. It is a grey area of illegal. Some farmers will kill badgers and to hide their actions, dump them on the roadside to make it seem like roadkill.

  • Without examining them (and I wasn't going to do that) I can;t rule it out. Some were in the middle of the road. I don't suppose you have citable sources do you, e.g. has anyone been convicted (except under the authorised culls they're protected, so it's definitely illegal; the question is more whether anyone bothers to prosecute) – Chris H Apr 1 '18 at 20:04
  • Sadly, according to some research I did after reading this answer, it has been proven that some farmers in that area are breaking the culling law. I don't have enough to write a full answer but this site says that "some farmers have been accused of gassing, poisoning or shooting badgers on their land, and throwing them on the road, to give the impression that they are road kill." In addition to what @Charlie said, this is a contributing factor. – Sue Saddest Farewell TGO GL Apr 1 '18 at 22:10
4

There's another aspect of human intervention as well as Dynadin's answer. Last weekend the clocks went forward an hour in the UK, so humans are up an hour earlier, and it's common for there to be an increase in roadkill as a result.

  • That's certainly true if badgers are active at dawn, but I don't know how that compares to their activity at dusk – Chris H Apr 2 '18 at 11:32

protected by Reinstate Monica Apr 5 at 20:42

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