Effects of radio-collars on European badgers (Meles meles)
Tuyttens FAM., Macdonald DW., Roddam AW.
The relationships between radio-collaring/tracking and 12 biometric parameters in a population of badgers (Meles meles) that were live-trapped in south-west England were investigated. The length of time for which a badger had worn a radio-collar was selected as an explanatory variable in generalized linear models of three biometric parameters (body condition, body weight and testes volume) irrespective of whether or not age class was included as a variable in the analyses. There was evidence that badgers that had been carrying a radio-collar for 1-100 days had lower body condition scores both when compared to badgers that had not been collared and with those that had been collared for longer than 100 days, suggesting a post-collaring acclimation period. In addition, the time period between first and last capture was longer for radio-collared than non-collared badgers. It is unlikely that this was due to an effect of collaring on trappability or to non-random selection of badgers for collaring. Although testes size differed between non-collared badgers and badgers that had been tagged for > 100 days, the relationship between radio-collaring and reproductive output remained unproven. These results highlight not only the need to assess the welfare aspects of radio-collaring but also the potential intricacy of corollaries of collaring. Explorations such as that reported here are important to the validity of studies that make use of radio-telemetry.