Spotlight on Amercian Badgers

Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance Photograph courtesy of Phillipe Verkerk badgers
Photograph courtesy of Phillipe Verkerk
What is a Badger?

Badgers are members of the Weasel family, related to wolverines, otters, martens, and minks. There are seven species of Badgers in the world such as the African Honey Badger and the Indonesian Stink Badger. In North America there is one species of Badger.

What do they look like?

Badgers have a white stripe that runs down the top of their head, from the tip of their nose all the way to their shoulders. The black cheek patches (called “badges”) are how badgers get their name. Badgers are stout, shaggy animals that look “flattened” because their hair is short on their backs and long on their sides. Baby badgers are born in the spring. Young badgers stay with their mothers until late August, when they leave home and try to find a home range of their own. This is a very difficult time in the life of a badger. Female badgers give birth to one to five furry, blind kits, whose eyes open after four to six weeks. In B.C. the average litter size is 1.4 kits. Badgers need rodents to eat and isolated areas to dig burrows, sleep and raise young. Badgers are mostly nocturnal and hunt at night.

Where do badgers live in British Columbia?

The grasslands and dry forests of the Thompson, Okanagan, Boundary, Nicola, Cariboo, and East Kootenay regions. Badgers are at risk! Less than 300 badgers are thought to live in our province now.

How do badgers live?

Badgers live in burrows up to 9m long and 3m deep (that’s roughly the size of a big school bus). The entrance to the burrow is football sized and has a large pile of dirt on the doorstep. Badgers live a solitary existence, spending time together only during mating and when kits (badger babies) are still dependent upon their mothers.

Why are badgers and their grassland home endangered in British Columbia?

Grasslands are found in areas that are too hot and dry for forests to establish. They are characterized by bunchgrass, wildflowers, and shrubs such as antelope brush, sagebrush and rabbit brush, lichens and mosses. Most of our species at risk are found in the grasslands of the province. In many cases species are in trouble because of the loss or fragmentation of their habitat due to human activity. These include: urban development, agricultural expansion, highways and roads cutting across habitat, off-road vehicle recreation and invasive weeds. In the early 1900’s, badgers were widely persecuted because they were considered an agricultural pest. Many badgers die each year trying to cross busy highways, roads, and railway lines.

What you can do to help badgers and grasslands

  • Report badger sightings and burrow locations to 1-888-223-4376.
  • Protect habitat where badgers and burrows are known to occur.
  • Watch for Badgers and other wildlife crossing roads and highways.
  • Recognize badgers as important for rodent control and tolerate ground squirrels as their main food source.
  • Stay on established trails, roads and routes.
  • Avoid introducing and spreading invasive weeds. Visit www.rdos.bc.ca and www.weedsbc.ca
  • Learn more about Grasslands and the Best Management Practices associated with grassland protection www.bcgrasslands.org


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