A study of fox (Vulpes vulpes) visits to farm buildings in Southwest England and the implications for disease management

Bryony Tolhurst, Alastair I. Ward, Richard J. Delahay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Farm buildings may offer foraging opportunities for wild mammals, which may result in economic losses and the potential for disease transmission to livestock. Effective management to reduce such risks requires knowledge of the behaviour of wildlife visiting buildings. Remote surveillance was used to monitor red fox (Vulpes vulpes) activity in buildings on cattle farms in Southwest England over a period of 2 years. Frequent visits were observed throughout the year, during which foxes excreted and scent-marked on stored feed. This behaviour carries potential risks of pathogen transmission to cattle. Fox visits were positively correlated with maximum temperature in the preceding 24 h, and were most frequent to buildings where cattle were absent. The frequency of fox visits varied widely amongst farms, potentially reflecting variation in local farm management practices. On some farms, visits were frequent and involved behaviour with the potential to result in contamination of the environment with infectious pathogens. Risks of onward transmission to domestic animals could be managed by imposing tighter biosecurity measures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1227-1230
Number of pages4
JournalEuropean Journal of Wildlife Research
Volume57
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2011

Keywords

  • Red fox
  • Farm buildings
  • Foraging behaviour
  • Excretion
  • Disease transmission

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