There is very little published scientific information relating to the rehabilitation and release of British wildlife. At Secret World we endeavor to work to the highest possible standards, making full use of the information that is available and, wherever possible, ensuring that our policies are evidence based.
We encourage scientific study where it benefits the animals. We try hard to keep good records of all we do with the animals that come into our care, our successes and failures, and change our policies based on these findings. We aim to publish, disseminate and discuss our knowledge wherever possible, sharing what we have found with others in the veterinary, scientific and rehabilitation communities.
We are lucky to have excellent support in what we do from the broader scientific community, especially our friends and colleagues at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) to whom we extend our thanks.
We hope you will find the information on these pages useful.
Publications and presentations
In order to share our knowledge of wildlife rehabilitation generally and badger rehabilitation in particular, Secret World Wildlife Rescue frequently attends and presents work at scientific conferences nationally and internationally. Attendance at these is paid for by the organisers of the conference or by the individuals taking part rather than using charity funds.
Here are links to some of our conference posters and scientific publications:
Reasons for the presentation of badger (Meles meles) casualties to a Veterinary Hospital and outcomes following treatment. E. Mullineaux, P. Kidner, S. Edwards 2008. European Wildlife Disease Association Conference, Rovinj, Croatia
Enteropathogens of juvenile Eurasian badgers (Meles meles) – Diagnosis, treatment and control. A. Barlow, E. Mullineaux, S. Cowen, P. Kidner, 2012. World and European Wildlife Disease Associations Conference, Lyon, France
Wildlife Groups and Bovine Tuberculosis, Opportunity or Threat? E. Mullineaux, 2014. Sixth M. bovis Conference, Cardiff, Wales.
Current Management of Badger (Meles meles) Rehabilitation and Release in the UK, with Respect to Tuberculosis (M. bovis Infection) Risk. E. Mullineaux, P. Kidner, 2014 Sixth M. bovis Conference, Cardiff, Wales.
Veterinary Treatment and Rehabilitation of Indigenous Wildlife. E. Mullineaux, 2014. Journal of Small Animal Practice
Secret World Wildlife Rescue understands that the veterinary profession, vets and vet nurses, may need help and advice when dealing with wildlife casualties. We are always happy to offer advice directly to veterinary professionals through our normal contact details.
Resources for vets
Badger emergency care sheet. In 2013 we produced an information sheet for veterinary surgeons on the Emergency Care of Badgers and this was sent to all vets in the southwest.
Basic Principles of Triage and First Aid in Wildlife Casualties. In 2017 we sent information to veterinary practices throughout the south west to assist them with the initial care of wildlife casualties, especially overnight when Secret World is closed for admissions.
Shot badger form. A guidance form, produced by Wildlife and Badger Care, is available for veterinary surgeons when examining badgers with suspected gunshot injuries, such as might arise within the legal badger cull areas and illegally in other areas. It should be remembered that where badgers may have been shot outside of the strict licence conditions within the cull areas that this is likely to constitute an offence under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 and these cases must be reported immediately to the police.
Secret World Wildlife Rescue runs courses specifically aimed at veterinary nurses and veterinary surgeons, as well as those for wildlife rehabilitators. See our Wildlife Courses for more information and to book a place.
BSAVA Nurse Merit Award in British Wildlife
Despite their very important role in caring for British wildlife casualties, Veterinary Nurses receive no specific training in this discipline during their diploma or degree courses as the subject is not included in the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeon’s Occupational Standards for the profession.
In order to address this situation, as well as running courses suitable for veterinary nurses, Secret World Wildlife Rescue, together with the British Small Animal Veterinary association (BSAVA), have developed the first postgraduate course for veterinary nurses in the care of British wildlife. Ten nurses completed the first course successfully in 2013 and a further eight in 2016. Another merit award course is likely to be run in 2019. For more information see:
Scientific projects and consultations
Secret World Wildlife Rescue is keen to encourage appropriate scientific research that directly or indirectly benefits the animals we care for, provided this research does not in any way negatively impact upon them.
We have supported studies from college diploma level to post doctorate level and are keen to continue to do so. If you think you would like to carry out your research project at Secret World, in the first instance download and complete the Research Application Form.
Secret World Wildlife Rescue is especially recognised both nationally and internationally for its work with badgers, caring for adult animals and rearing badger cubs. We work hard to promote responsible and scientific rehabilitation practices regarding the testing of badgers for bovine tuberculosis (Mycobacterium bovis infection).
The Badger Rehabilitation Protocol (2017) written by Secret World’s Scientific Advisor Liz Mullineaux, and supported by Defra, Secret World and the Badger Trust is available here
Bovine Tuberculosis and cattle
Secret World recognises that bovine tuberculosis is a significant economic disease of cattle and causes much anguish for the farmers concerned. We believe that control measures are required to control bovine tuberculosis and that these should focus on cattle controls and vaccination of both badgers and cattle. We do not believe that the scientific evidence, examples of which are given below, supports the culling of badgers as a method of controlling the disease in cattle.
Links to key reports and publications
The following reports and publications are likely to be helpful to those with an interest in badgers and bovine tuberculosis. These articles can be downloaded using the links provided.
The report of the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (ISG) chaired by Professor John Bourne, which considered the evidence for the control of badgers as a method of controlling bovine TB in cattle. This included the findings of the Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT). The conclusions of this report were that ‘Badger culling cannot meaningfully contribute to the future control of cattle TB in Britain’ as a result of ‘high costs and low benefits’ and ‘recommend that TB control methods focus on areas other than badger culling’.
The report of the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) chaired by professor Ranald Munro. The IEP was tasked by government to consider the safety, efficacy and humaneness of ‘free shooting’ of badgers in the 2013 Pilot badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire. The IEP found this method of culling to be ineffective in reducing badger numbers by the Defra desired level (70%) and raised serious questions regarding the humaneness of the practice, estimating that up to 22.8% of badgers taking more than 5 minutes to die.
Defra TB Strategy:
The current government strategy for achieving Officially Bovine Tuberculosis Free status for England.
Overview of published information relating to the control of bovine TB in Britain:
A restatement of the natural science evidence base relevant to the control of bovine tuberculosis in Great Britain. H. Charles J. Godfray, Christl A. Donnelly, Rowland R. Kao, David W. Macdonald, Robbie A. McDonald, Gillian Petrokofsky, James L. N. Wood, Rosie Woodroffe, Douglas B. Young and Angela R. McLean (2013)
The safety and immunogenicity of Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine in European badgers (Meles meles). S. Lesellier, S. Palmer, D.J. Dalley, D. Davé, L. Johnson, R.G. Hewinson, M.A. Chambers (2006)
Protection of Eurasian badgers (Meles meles) from tuberculosis after intra-muscular vaccination with different doses of BCG. Sandrine Lesellier, Si Palmer, Sonya Gowtage-Sequiera, Roland Ashford, Deanna Dalley, Dipesh Davé, Ute Weyer, F. Javier Salguero, Alejandro Nunez, Timothy Crawshaw, Leigh A.L. Corner, R. Glyn Hewinson, Mark A. Chambers (2011)
BCG Vaccination Reduces Risk of Tuberculosis Infection in Vaccinated Badgers and Unvaccinated Badger Cubs. Carter SP, Chambers MA, Rushton SP, Shirley MDF, Schuchert P, et al. (2012)
Other useful links:
Badger Trust: http://badgertrust.org.uk
Badger Trust brings together individuals and groups from across the UK to promote the study, conservation and protection of badgers, their setts and natural habitats.