Learn about the American badger – and why its true patriot love for Canada may be fading.
Badgers seem to be known for two main reasons: their stubbornness, which has turned the term badger into a synonym for bother, and the fact that “honey badger don’t care!” This Wildlife Wednesday, we delve a tad deeper into what makes the American badger tick (we’ll save honey badgers for another day), and explore why this not-so-crotchety creature is becoming scarcer in Canada.
Despite their name, American badgers reside across the US and in dry, open parts of Canada and Mexico.
- American badgers have been known to hunt ground squirrels in tandem with teamwork-minded coyotes. (See, badgers aren’t crotchety at all!)
- American badgers are fossorial, meaning they’re capable of digging burrows and tend to live underground. To this end, badgers have a third eyelid—not unlike crocodiles’—that protects their peepers from soil.
- Like sand cats, American badgers are nocturnal hunters who while away the daylight hours in burrows they’ve dug.
- Although they don’t hibernate, American badgers have been known to enter torpor—a relaxed sleeplike state—when the thermostat drops … which is pretty much what I do in the winter too.
Why are they threatened?
Although listed as a “least concern” species in the US, American badgers are endangered in BC and Ontario; only about 600 and 200 of the animals remain in these provinces, respectively. Agriculture is a major threat, as farmed land can compete with badgers’ burrowing space. American badgers are also endangered by trapping and all-too-common traffic accidents.
How can we help?
An excellent question! Some landowners in BC and Ontario have already hopped on the badger bus by ensuring that land is left in as natural a state as possible. This way, badgers’ hunting space isn’t infringed upon, and these burrowers have room to build dens for their (adorable) cubs.
To help American badgers in Ontario, check out the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources’ section on the critters. To learn more about aiding BC badgers, read up on the Thompson-Okanagan Badger Project.