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Badgers likely not to blame for lamb deaths
Fox DNA was found on all lamb carcasses where predation was confirmed.
Investigation reveals findings after Scottish farmers had raised badger attack concerns.

An investigation launched following concerns in the Scottish farming sector about suspected badger attacks on lambs has found that foxes were most likely responsible.

The study, carried out by Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA), in collaboration with NatureScot, Scottish Land and Estates, and the National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS), performed post-mortems on 29 lamb carcasses from participating farms.

The results confirmed predation in 48 per cent of cases. Thirty-one per cent had been scavenged after death. It was unclear whether or not predation had taken place in the remaining 21 per cent of cases.

DNA evidence from the 29 carcasses and 10 additional dead or injured lambs swabbed by farmers revealed that fox DNA was present on 87 per cent of samples, including all of the lambs where there was evidence of predation.

In contrast, badger DNA was only found on two lambs, neither of which was available for post-mortem.

The findings are in contrast to concerns that have been raised in recent years about badgers predating on lambs. In a 2020 survey by the NFUS, 20 per cent of respondents reported experiencing badger attacks on livestock.

Sheila George, wildlife biologist at SASA, said: “Livestock predation can be particularly distressing for farmers but identifying the predator from field signs can be challenging. Combining post-mortem and DNA evidence, we found that puncture wounds around the head, neck and throat, and associated bleeding, were a good indicator that fox predation had occurred.

“Despite the abundance of badgers on the study farms, we did not find DNA evidence that they killed lambs or regularly scavenged carcasses.”

Donald Fraser, NatureScot’s head of wildlife management, added: “These findings begin to fill an important gap in our knowledge on lamb predation on Scottish farms and demonstrate the value of high-quality science and evidence in improving our understanding of interactions between wildlife and livestock.”

The full report can be read on the NatureScot website.

Image © Shutterstock

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Rabbit Awareness Week set to return this summer

News Story 1
 Rabbit Awareness Week (RAW) is returning this summer, running from 24-28 June 2024. The theme for this year will be 'Healthy Diet, Happy Bunnies'.

The focus on rabbits' diet comes after the most recent PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report report revealed that 42 per cent of veterinary professionals identified inappropriate diet as one of the five most important rabbit welfare issues that need to be address.

The campaign will include veterinary blogs, videos, and digital waiting room resources. Practices can sign up to receive updates about RAW. 

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CVS Group hit by cyber attack

CVS Group, which owns more than 450 veterinary practices in the UK, has been hit by a cyber attack.

In a statement, the group said the incident involved unauthorised external access to a limited number of its IT systems. As soon as the attack was discovered, the group took its IT systems temporarily offline, causing 'considerable operational disruption'.

It has warned that the security steps taken and ongoing plans to move its operational systems and IT infrastructure to the Cloud are likely to have an ongoing impact over a number of weeks.

Due to the risk that personal information was accessed, CVS has informed the Information Commissioner's Office. The company is working with third party consultants to investigate the incident.