Encounters between two sympatric carnivores: red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and European badgers (Meles meles)


All correspondence to: D. W. Macdonald. E-mail: david.macdonald@zoology.oxford.ac.uk


Interspecific interactions between sympatric carnivores have important implications for intra-guild competition, epidemiology (here especially in the context of rabies and bovine tuberculosis), and strategies for species-specific population management. Data are provided on 135 interspecific encounters between at least 35 European badgers Meles meles and a minimum of five red foxes Vulpes vulpes, gathered with the aid of remote video surveillance at an artificial feeding site, and in the vicinity of six badger setts. We hypothesized that interspecific competition would be manifest in aggression and changes in vigilance and feeding, with the larger badger having the advantage, and we sought to explore differences in any such changes at the two types of site. Badgers were clearly dominant over foxes, fed in longer bouts and were less vigilant. At badger setts, once it was clear that the encounter was not going to escalate to aggression, each species was unaffected by the presence, proximity or orientation of the other. There are preliminary indications that foxes sometimes seek the company of badgers.