Factors shaping population density, demography and spatial organization of the Eurasian badger Meles meles in mountains – the Western Carpathians (Southern Poland) as a case study

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  • 1 Association for Nature “Wolf”, Twardorzeczka 229, 34-324 Lipowa, Poland
  • | 2 Jagiellonian University, Institute of Environmental Sciences, ul. Gronostajowa 7, 30-387 Kraków, Poland
  • | 3 Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, ul. Waszkiewicza 1c, 17-230 Białowieża, Poland

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We studied the socio-spatial ecology of the Eurasian badger (Meles meles) along the altitudinal gradient (250-1257 m a.s.l.) of the Western Carpathians (Southern Poland), 2004-2009. Family groups were small (mean 2.3 individuals) and home-ranges large (mean 5.42 km2, MCP 100%), which gave a low population density (2.2 individuals/10 km2). Badgers foraged mainly in the foothills, irrespective of the altitude at which their sett was located. They mostly searched for food in meadows, pastures and arable fields (34.4% of telemetry locations), or among shrubs (33.9%). Badgers were killed by hunters (0.37 individuals/10 km2 annually), and by wolves (0.07 individuals/10 km2). The badger population density was influenced mostly by the abundance of earthworms and hunting pressure, while the size and shape of their territories was determined by the distribution of foraging grounds.

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